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REFERENCE 



NOAA Technical Report NMFS CIRC-396 



-<^i 



^Utes o^ 



ales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of 
the Western North Atlantic 

A Guide to Their Identification 



STEPHEN LEATHERWOOD, DAVID K. CALDWELL, 
and HOWARD E. WINN 

with special assistance by 

William E. Schevill and Melba C. Caldwell 



SEATTLE, WA 
AUGUST 1976 



NATIONAL OCEANIC AND / National Marine 

ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION / Fisheries Service 



NOAA TECHNICAL REPORTS 
National Marine Fisheries Service, Circulars 



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315. Synopsis of biological data on the chum salmon. Oncorhynchus keta 

(Walbaum) 1792. By Richard G. Bakkala. March 1970. iii + 89 p., 15 figs., 51 

tables, 

319. Bureau ot Commercial Fisheries Great Lakes Fishery Laboratory, Ann 

Arbor. Michigan. By Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. March 1970. 8 p.. 7 figs, 

330. EASTROPAC Atlas; Vols. 17. CaUlog No. I 49.4:330/(vol.) 11 vols. 
Available from the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government Printing 
Office, Washington, DC. 20402. 

331. Guidelines for the processing of hot smoked chub. By H. L. Seagran, J. 
T. Graikoski. and J. A. Emerson. January 1970. iv + 23 p.. 8 figs., 2 tables. 

332. Pacific hake. (12 articles by 20 authors.) March 1970. iii + 152 p.. 72 
figs.. 47 tables. 

333. Recommended practices for vessel sanitation and fish handling. By 
Edgar W. Bowman and Alfred Larsen. March 1970, iv + 27 p.. 6 figs. 

335. Progress report of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Center for 
Estuarine and Menhaden Research. Pesticide Field Station. Gulf Breeze, Fla.. 
fiscal year 1%9. By the Laboratory staff. August 1970, iii + 33 p., 29 figs.. 
12 tables. 

336. The northern fur seal. By Ralph C. Baker. Ford Wilke. and C. Howard 
Baltzo. April 1970, iu + 19 p., 13 figs, 

.337. Program of Division of Economic Research, Bureau of Commercial 
Fisheries, fiscal year 1969. By Division of Economic Research. April 1970. iii 
+ 29 p.. 12 figs.. 7 Ubies. 

338. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Biological Laboratory, Auke Bay, 
Alaska. By Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, June 1970, 8 p.. 6 figs. 

339. Salmon research at Ice Harbor Dam. By Wesley J. Ebel. April 1970. 6 
p.. 4 figs. 

340. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Technological Laboratory. Gloucester. 
Massachusetts. By Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. June 1970. 8 p., 8 figs. 

341. Report of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Biological Laboratory, 
Beaufort, N.C.. for the fiscal year ending June .30, 1968. By the Laboratory 
suff. August 1970. iii + 24 p.. 11 figs.. 16 tables. 

342. Report of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Biological Laboratory, 
St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, fiscal year 1969. By the Laboratory staff. 
August 1970. iii + 22 p., 20 figs.. 8 tables. 

343. Report of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Biological Laboratory. 
Galveston. Texas, fiscal year 1969. By the Laboratory staff. August 1970. iii 
+ 39 p.. 28 figs.. 9 UbIes. 

344. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Tropical Atlantic Biological Laboratory 
progress in research 1965-69. Miami. Florida. By Ann Weeks. October 1970. iv 
+ 65 p.. 53 figs.. 

346. Sportsman's guide to handling, smoking, and preserving Great Lakes 
coho salmon. By Shearon Dudley. J. T. Graikoski, H. L. Seagran. and Paul M. 
Earl. September 1970. ui + 28' p.. 15 figs. 

347. Synopsis of biological data on Pacific ocean perch, Sebastodes atutus. 
By Richard L, Major and Herbert H, Shippen. December 1970. iii + 38 p.. 31 
figs.. U tables. 



349. Use of abstracts and summaries as communication devices in technical 
articles. By F. Bruce Sanford. February 1971. iii + 11 p.. 1 fig. 

350. Research in fiscal year 1%9 at the Bureau ot Commercial Fisheries 
Biological Laboratory. Beaufort. N.C. By the Laboratory staff. November 1970. 
ii + 49 p.. 21 figs., 17 tables. 

351. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Exploratory Fishing and Gear Research 
Base. Pascagoula. Mississippi. July 1, 1967 to June 30, 1969. By Harvey R. 
BuUis. Jr. and John R. Thompson. November 1970. iv + 29 p., 29 figs,. 1 
Ubie. 

352. Upstream passage of anadromous fish through navigation locks and use 
of the stream for spawning and nursery habitat. Cape Fear River. N.C. 
1962-66. By Paul R. Nichols and Darrell E. Louder. October 1970. iv + 12 p., 
9 figs., 4 tables. 

356. Floating laboratory for study of aquatic organisms and their environ- 
ment. By George R. Snyder. Theo,dore H. Blahm. and Robert J. McConnell. 
May 1971. iii + 16 p.. 11 figs.. 

.tei. Regional and other related aspects of shellfish consumption — some 
preliminary findings from the 1969 Consumer Panel Survey. By Morton M. 
Miller and Darrel A. Nash. June 1971. iv + 18 p.. 19 figs., 3 tables, 10 apps, 

362, Research vessels of the National Marine Fisheries Service. By Robert S. 
Wolf. August 1971. iii + 46 p.. 25 figs,. 3 tables. For sale by the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington. 
D.C. 20402. 

364. History and development of surf clam harvesting gear. By Phillip S. 
Parker. October 1971. iv + 15 p.. 16 figs. For sale by the Superintendent of 
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington. D.C. 20402. 

365. Processing EASTROPAC STD daU and the construction of vertical 
temperature and salinity sections by computer. By Forrest R. Miller and 
Kenneth A. Bliss. February 1972, iv + 17 p.. 8 figs.. 3 appendix figs. For 
sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office. 
Washington. D.C. 20402. 

366. Key to field identification of andromous juvenile salmonids in the Pacific 
Northwest. By Robert J. McConnell and George R. Snyder. January 1972, iv 
+ 6 p.. 4 figs. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. 
Government Printing Office. Washington. D.C. 20402. 

367. Engineering economic model for fish protein concentration processes. By 
K. K. Almenas, L. C. DurUla. R. C. Ernst. J. W. Gentry. M. B. Hale, and J. 
M. Marchello. October 1972. iii + 175 p.. 6 figs.. 6 tables. For sale by the 
Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington, 
D.C. 20402. 

368. Cooperative Gulf of Mexico estuarine inventory and study. Florida; 
Phase I. area description. By J. Kneeland McNulty. William N. Lindall. Jr.. 
and James E. Sykes. November 1972. vii + 126 p.. 46 figs.. 62 UbIes. For 
sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington. DC. 20402. 

369. Field guide to the anglefishes (Pomacanthidae) in the western Atlantic. 
By Henry A. Feddern. November 1972. iii + 10 p.. 17 figs.. For sale by the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington. 
D.C. 20402. 



Continued on inside back cover. 



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DOCUMENT 
LIBRARY 

Woods Hole Oceanographic 

NOAA Technical Report NMFS CIRC-396 \^ institution 



Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of 
the Western North Atlantic 

A Guide to Their Identification 



STEPHEN LEATHERWOOD, DAVID K. CALDWELL, 
and HOWARD E. WINN 

with special assistance by 

William E. Schevill and Melba C. Caldwell 






SEATTLE, WA 
AUGUST 1976 






I CD UNITED STATES / NATIONAL OCEANIC AND / National Marine 

i^ DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION / Fisheries Service 

Elliot L. Richardson, Secretary / Robert M Wtiite, Administrator / Robert W Sclioning Director 



For Sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C. 20402 Stock No. 003-020-00119-0 




'^ENT O^ 



PREFACE 

In March 1972, the Naval Undersea Center (NUC), San Diego, CaUf. in cooperation with the National 
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Tiburon, Calif, published a photographic field guide— The Whales, Dolphins 
and Porpoises of the Eastern North Pacific. A Guide to Their Identification in the Water, by S. Leatherwood, 
W.E. Evans, and D.W. Rice (NUC TP 282). This guide was designed to assist the layman in identifying the 
cetaceans he encountered in that area and was intended for use in two ongoing whale observer programs, 
NUC's Whale Watch and NMFS's Platforms of Opportunity. The rationale of these programs was that since 
oceanographers, commercial and sport fishermen, naval personnel, commercial seamen, pleasure boaters, and 
coastal aircraft pilots together canvas large areas of the oceans which scientists specializing in whales 
(cetologists) have time and funds to survey only occasionally, training those persons in species identification 
and asking them to report their sightings back to central data centers could help scientists more clearly 
understand distribution, migration, and seasonal variations in abundance of cetacean species. For such a 
program to work, a usable field guide is a requisite. Because the many publications on the whales, dolphins, and 
porpoises of this region were either too technical in content or too limited in geographical area or species 
covered to be of use in field identification, and because conventional scientific or taxonomic groupings of the 
animals are often not helpful in field identification, the photographic field guide took a different approach. 
Instead of being placed into their scientific groups, species were grouped together on the basis of similarities in 
appearance during the brief encounters typical at sea. Photographs of the animals in their natural 
environment, supplemented by drawings and descriptions or tables distinguishing the most similar species, 
formed the core of the guide. 

Despite deficiencies in the first effort and the inherent difficulties of positively identifying many of the 
cetacean species at sea, the results obtained from the programs have been encouraging. Many seafarers who 
had previously looked with disinterest or ignorance on the animals they encountered became good critical 
observers and found pleasure in the contribution they were making. The potential for the expansion of such 
observer programs is enormous. 

Because of these initial successes and the large number of requests for packets from persons working at 
sea off the Atlantic coast of North America, this guide was planned. Many of the errors and deficiencies of the 
Pacific Guide have been corrected, and the discussions of the ranges of many of the species have been expanded 
with considerations of the major oceanographic factors affecting their distribution and movements. While the 
present volume, like the Pacific Guide, is intended as an aid to the identification of living animals at sea, new 
materials have been provided to aid in the identification and reporting of stranded specimens, a major source of 
data and study material for museums. This new dimension is expected to assist the U.S. National Museum, 
various regional museums, and other researchers actively collecting cetacean materials for display and study 
in the implementation of their stranded animal salvage programs. Through a cooperative effort of this kind, the 
best possible use can be made of all materials that become available. 

As a part of continuing research, this guide will be revised whenever possible. Suggestions for its 
improvement will at all times be welcome. 



Funds for the preparation of this guide were provided by a grant to Stephen Leatherwood from the Platforms 
of Opportunity Program, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, Tiburon, Calif., Paul Sund, Coordinator. 



CONTENTS 

Introduction 1 

Classification of cetaceans 1 

Dolphin or porpoise 5 

Organization of the guide 5 

How to use the guide 7 

To identify animals at sea 7 

To identify stranded animals 7 

To record and report information 7 

Directory to species accounts: 

Large whales: 

With a dorsal fin 10 

Without dorsal fin 13 

Medium-sized whales: 

With a dorsal fin 14 

Without dorsal fin 15 

Small whales, dolphins, and porpoises with a dorsal fin 16 

Species accounts: 

Large whales with a dorsal fin: 

Blue whale 19 

Fin whale 26 

Sei whale 32 

Bryde's whale 37 

Humpback whale 40 

Large whales without dorsal fin: 

Bowhead whale 49 

Right whale 52 

Sperm whale 57 

Medium-sized whales with a dorsal fin: 

Minke whale 63 

Northern bottlenosed whale 67 

Goosebeaked whale 70 

Other beaked whales 74 

True's beaked whale 77 

Antillean beaked whale 78 

Dense-beaked whale 80 

North Sea beaked whale 82 

Killer whale 84 

False killer whale 88 

Atlantic pilot whale 91 

Short-finned pilot whale 94 

Grampus 96 

Medium-sized whales without dorsal fin: 

Beluga 99 

Narwhal 102 

Small whales, dolphins, and porpoises with a dorsal fin: 

Atlantic spotted dolphin 104 

Bridled dolphin 108 

Spinner dolphin 110 

Striped dolphin 113 

Saddleback dolphin 116 

Fraser's dolphin 120 

Atlantic white-sided dolphin 123 

White-beaked dolphin 126 

Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin 128 

Guiana dolphin 132 

Rough toothed dolphin 135 

Pygmy killer whale 138 

Many-toothed blackfish 142 

Pygmy sperm whale 144 

Dwarf sperm whale 148 

Harbor porpoise 150 

Acknowledgments 152 



111 



Selected bibliography 152 

Appendix A, Tags on whales, dolphins, and porpoises 154 

Appendix B, Recording and reporting observations of cetaceans at sea 160 

Appendix C, Stranded whales, dolphins, and porpoises; with a key to the identification of stranded 

cetaceans of the western North Atlantic 163 

Appendix D, Recording and reporting data on stranded cetaceans 169 

Appendix E, List of institutions to contact regarding stranded cetaceans 171 



The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) does not approve, rec- 
ommend or endorse any proprietary product or proprietary material 
mentioned in this publication. No reference shall be made to NMFS, or 
to this publication furnished by NMFS, in any advertising or sales pro- 
motion which would indicate or imply that NMFS approves, recommends 
or endorses any proprietary product or proprietary material mentioned 
herein, or which has as its purpose an intent to cause directly or indirectly 
the advertised product to be used or purchased because of this NMFS 
publication. 



Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the 
Western North Atlantic 

A Guide to Their Identification 

STEPHEN LEATHERWOOD,' DAVID K. CALDWELL/ and 
HOWARD E.WINN' 

with special assistance by 
WUliam E . Schevill * and Melba C . Caldwell ' 



ABSTRACT 

This field guide is designed to permit observers to identify the cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) 
they see in the western North Atlantic, including the Caribbean Sea. the Gulf of Mexico, and the coastal 
waters of the United States and Canada. The animals described are grouped not by scientific relationships but 
by similarities in appearance in the field. Photographs of the animals in their natural environment are the main 
aids to identification. 

A dichotomized key is provided to aid in identification of stranded cetaceans and appendices describe how 
and to whom to report data on live and dead cetaceans. 



INTRODUCTION 

All whales, dolphins, and porpoises belong to an order or 
major scientific group called the Cetacea by scientists. They 
are all mammals (air-breathing animals which have hair in at 
least some stage of their development, maintain a constant 
body temperature, bear their young alive, and nurse them for 
a while) which have undergone extensive changes in body 
form (anatomy) and function (physiology) to cope with a life 
spent entirely in the water. The breathing aperture(s), called 
a blowhole or blowholes, has (have) migrated to the top of the 
head to facilitate breathing while swimming; the forward 
appendages have become flippers; the hind appendages have 
nearly disappeared, they remain only as small traces of bone 
deeply imbedded in the muscles. Propulsion is provided by 
fibrous, horizontally flattened tail flukes. 

Scientists recognize two suborders of living cetaceans: the 
whalebone whales, suborder Mysticeti, and the toothed 
whales, suborder Odontoceti. The two groups are separated 
in the following ways: 

BALEEN OR WHALEBONE WHALES. These animals are 
called whalebone whales because when fully formed instead 
of teeth they have up to 800 or more plates of baleen or 
whalebone depending from the roof of the mouth. They use 
these plates to strain their food, which consists of "krill" 



'Biomedical Division, Undersea Sciences Department, Naval 
Undersea Center, San Diego. CA 92132. 

'Biocommunication and Marine Mammal Research Facility, 
C. V. Whitney Marine Research Laboratory of the University of Florida, 
St. Augustine, FL 32084. 

'Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island. 
Kingston, RI 02881. 

'Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Woods Hole, MA 02543 and 
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 
02138. 



(primarily small crustaceans) and/or small schooling fish, by 
taking water into the mouth and forcing it out through the 
overlapping fringes of the baleen plates. Baleen whales are 
externally distinguishable from toothed whales by having 
paired blowholes. There are eight species of baleen whales in 
the western North Atlantic, ranging in size from the minke 
whale (just over 30 feet [about 9.1 m])'to the blue whale (85 
feet [25.9 m]). 

TOOTHED WHALES. Unlike the baleen whales, the toothed 
whales do have teeth after birth. The teeth vary in number 
from 2 to over 250, though they may sometimes be concealed 
beneath the gum. In addition, toothed whales have only a 
single blowhole. This group includes the animals commonly 
called dolphin or porpoise as well as some commonly called 
whales (for example, the sperm whale). There are currently 
about 30 species of toothed whales known from the western 
North Atlantic, ranging in maximum adult size from the 
common or harbor porpoise, which is approximately 5 feet 
(1.5 m) long, up to the sperm whale which reaches a length of 
68 feet (20.7 m). Several other species which are expected to 
be found in this region, though they have not yet been 
reported, are also included in this guide. 

CLASSIFICATION OF CETACEANS 

In addition to the two suborders (Mysticeti and 
Odontoceti), the cetacean order contains numerous families, 
genera, and species. Each of these groupings represents a 
progressively more specialized division of the animals into 
categories on the basis of similarities in their skulls. 



'Throughout this guide, measurements are given first in feet or 
inches, followed in parentheses by their equivalents in meters or 
centimeters. It is recognized that field estimates cannot be as precise as 
most of the conversions used. 




ATLANTIC OCEAN 



Figure l.-The western North Atlantic, from Ut. 35°N-65°N. 



postcranial skeletons, and external characteristics. The 
discipline which concerns itself with naming an animal and 
assigning it to its appropriate scientific category is known as 
taxonomy. An example of the classification of a cetacean 
species is shown in the following: 



SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION OF THE 
ATLANTIC BOTTLENOSED DOLPHIN 



Kingdom: 

Phylum: 



Subphylum: Vertebrata 



Class: 



Order: 



Suborder: 



Animalia all animals 

Chordata having at some stage a noto- 

chord, the precursor of the 
backbone 
animals with backbones- 
fishes, amphibians, reptiles, 
birds, and mammals 

Mammalia animals that suckle their 
young 

Cetacea carnivorous, wholly aquatic 

mammals: whales, including 
dolphins and porpoises 

Odontoceti toothed whales as distinguish- 
ed from Mysticeti, the 
baleen whales 



Family: Delphinidae dolphins 

Genus: Tursiops bottlenosed dolphins 

Species: truncatus Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin 

Modern taxonomy had its origin with the Swedish 
naturalist Linnaeus, whose tenth edition of the Systema 
Naturae in 1758 forms the official starting point. Following 
Linnaeus, modern scientific names consist of two words, a 
generic name, which has an initial capital, and a species name, 
which rarely does, occasionally in botany (some species 
names deriving from a person's name are capitalized). Both 
names are usually of Latin origin (sometimes Greek) and are 
italicized or underlined. These scientific names are of 
particular importance because, although common names of 
species often are different in different countries or even in 
different regions of the same country, the scientific name 
remains the same. For example, the right whale is uni- 
versally known as Eubalaerva glacialis though its common 
names include black right whale, nordcaper, sletbag, Biscay 
whale, and Biscayan right whale. 

Although classification of many species is still in a state of 
flux, the classification of western North Atlantic cetaceans 
followed in this guide is as follows: 




Figure 2.-1116 western North Atlantic, from lat. 37°N south to eastern Venezuela. 



Order Cetacea 

Suborder Mysticeti — Baleen whales 
Family Balaenopteridae— Rorquals 

Balaenopteraacutorostrata 

Balaenoptera physalus 

Bataenoptera musculus 

Balaenoptera borealis 

Balaenoptera edeni 

Megaptera novaeangliae 
Family Balaenidae— Right whales 

Balaenamysticetus 

EubalaerM glacialis 
Suborder Odontoceti— Toothed whales 
Family Ziphiidae 

Mesoplodon bidens 

Mesoplodon densirostris 



Page of 

synoptic account 

of the species 



Lacepede 1804 


Minke whale 


63 


(Linnaeus 1758) 


Fin whale 


26 


(Linnaeus 1758) 


Blue whale 


19 


Lesson 1828 


Sei whale 


32 


Anderson 1879 


Bryde's whale 


37 


(Borowski 1781) 


Humpback whale 


40 


Linnaeus 1758 


Bowhead whale 


49 


(Borowski 1781) 


Right whale 


52 


(Sowerby 1804) 


North Sea beaked whale 


82 


(Blainvillein 


Dense-beaked whale 


80 


Desmarestl817) 







blowho les 



dorsal fin 




baleen ar 
wha I e bone 



t h roa t 
g rooves 



umbilicus 
( novel ) 



Figure 3. — A baleen whale (humpback) showing the main body parts referred to in the text. 



Mesoplodon europaeus 


(Gervais 1855) 


Antillean beaked whale 


78 


Mesoplodon mirus 


True 1913 


True's beaked whale 


77 


Ziphius cavirostris 


G.Cuvierl823 


Goosebeaked whale 


70 


Hyperoodon ampullatus 


(Forster 1770) 


Northern bottlenosed whale 


67 


Family Physeteridae 








Physeter catodon 


Linnaeus 1758 


Sperm whale 


57 


Kogiabreviceps 


(Blainville 1838) 


Pygmy sperm whale 


144 


Kogia simus 


(Owen 1866) 


Dwarf sperm whale 


148 


Family Monodontidae 




• 




Monodon monoceros 


Linnaeus 1758 


Narwhal 


102 


Delphinapterus leucas 


(Pallas 1776) 


Beluga 


99 


Family Stenidae 








Steno bredanensis 


(G. Cuvier in Lesson 1828) 


Rough-toothed dolphin 


135 


Sotalia guianensis 


(P.-J. van Beneden 1864) 


Guiana dolphin 


132 


Family Delphinidae 








Peponocephalaelectra 


(Gray 1846) 


Many-toothed blackfish 


142 


Feresaattenuata 


Gray 1874 


Pygmy killer whale 


138 


Pseudorca crassidens 


(Owen 1846) 


False killer whale 


88 


Globicephala melaena 


(Traill 1809) 


Atlantic pilot whale 


91 


Globicephala macrorhynckus 


Gray 1846 


Short-finned pilot whale 


94 


Orcinus orca 


(Linnaeus 1758) 


Killer whale 


84 


Lagenorhynchus albirostris 


Gray 1846 


White-beaked dolphin 


126 


Lagenorhynchus acutus 


(Gray 1828) 


Atlantic white-sided dolphin 


123 


Lagenodetphis hosei 


Fraser 1956 


Fraser's dolphin 


120 


Tursiops truncatus 


(Montagu 1821) 


Bottlenosed dolphin 


128 


Grampus griseus 


(G. Cuvier 1812) 


Grampus 


96 


SteneUa longirostris 


Gray 1828 


Spinner dolphin 


110 


Stenella frontalis 


(G. Cuvier 1829) 


Bridled dolphin 


108 


Stenella coeruleoalba 


(Meyen 1833) 


Striped dolphin 


113 


Stenella plagiodon 


(Cope 1866) 


Spotted dolphin 


104 


Delphinus delphis 


Linnaeus 1758 


Saddleback dolphin 


116 


Family Phocoenidae 








Phocoenaphocoena 


(Linnaeus 1758) 


Harbor porpoise 


150 



This tentative classification follows an unpublished list by 
W.E. Schevilland E.M. Mitchell currently under review. The 



scientific names are followed by the name of the individual 
who named the species and the year of naming, and then by 




Figure 4. — A fin whale in the North Atlantic with the paired blowholes 
open during respiration. The paired blowholes distinguish this animal as a 
baleen whale. (Photo by W. A. Watkins.) 



the common name most often used in the western North 
Atlantic' It may be noted that some of the authors are in 
parentheses. This indicates that though the species name has 
remained the same since the date of naming the species has 
since been assigned to another genus. Because the species are 
not arranged in taxonomic order in this field guide, the page 
of the synoptic account of each is p "ovided in the column to the 
right. 

DOLPHIN OR PORPOISE 

There is still considerable controversy over the correct 
usage of the terms dolphin and porpoise. As mentioned in the 
preceding section, common names of any species may vary 
from locale to locale and even from individual to individual. 
Some persons argue for the use of the term porpoise for all 
small cetaceans. Others insist on the term dolphin. Still 
others either randomly use the terms or call members of the 



' Most common names are based on some characteristic of the species 
(e.g.. spotted dolphin, striped dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin); others 
are the names of authors of the species (e.g., True's beaked whale) or of 
habitats or macrohabitats which they inhabit (e.g.. North Sea beaked 
whale and harbor porpoise); the origins of some common names, however, 
are less obvious (e.g.. dense-beaked whale), and of less use in field 
references. 



family Delphinidae dolphins and members of the family 
Phocoenidae porpoises. The evidence supporting any one of 
these positions is confusing at best and no usage of terms 
appears to be without problems. We see no wholly 
satisfactory resolution to the problem at this time. For all 
these reasons, we have little desire to defend our decision to 
follow the last of these practices in this guide, referring to all 
members of the family Delphinidae for which the term 
dolphin or porpoise appears in the common name as dolphins, 
and to the one member of the family Phocoenidae represented 
in the western North Atlantic, Phocoerm phocoena, as the 
harbor porpoise. Although all cetaceans may be regarded as 
whales, the term "whale" most commonly applies to the 
larger animals. For all species treated, other common names 
by which they may be known are also listed. 

Detailed treatment of the relative merits of the various 
terminologies is inappropriate here. Furthermore, it is our 
opinion that the usage of the terms dolphin, porpoise, and 
whale as part of the common names of cetaceans is largely a 
matter of personal preference. 



ORGANIZATION OF THE GUIDE 

The differences between baleen and toothed whales are 
easy enough to see in animals washed up on the beach or 
maintained in a tank at a zoo or aquarium. But since an animal 
at sea can seldom be examined that closely, its most obvious 
characteristics may be its overall size, the presence or 
absence of a dorsal fin, its prominent coloration or markings, 
its general behavior, or its swimming, blowing, and diving 
characteristics. For that reason, regardless of their scientific 
relationships, all the whales, dolphins, and the one porpoise 
covered in the main text of this guide are divided into three 
groups. Those over 40 feet (12.2 m) long are discussed in the 
section on Large Whales, those from 13 to 40 feet (4.0 to 12.2 
m) in the Medium- Sized Whale, and those less than 13 feet 
(4.0 m) in the Small Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoise (with a 
dorsal fin). There are no small whales, dolphins, or por- 
poises in this region without a dorsal fin. Each section is 
further divided into those animals with a dorsal fin and those 
without. From that point, animals likely to be confused in 
the field are grouped together and the important differ- 
ences between them are discussed. 

The synoptic accounts of the species are followed by five 
appendices: Appendix A discusses and illustrates man-made 
and applied tags and natural markings on cetaceans and their 
importance in studies of natural history. Appendix B 
discusses the data which are most important to record in 
observations of cetaceans at sea, gives examples, and 
provides blank sighting forms. Appendix C discusses possible 
causes of cetacean strandings and the manner in which 
stranded animals should be handled and adds a key and tables 
to aid in identifying stranded cetaceans. Appendix D 
provides guidelines for collecting data on stranded cetaceans 
and provides forms and specific instructions for taking 
standard measurements. Appendix E lists institutions to be 
contacted in the event of a cetacean stranding or for 
information. 

A bibliography of useful references on cetaceans in 
general and cetaceans of this region in particular and a 
directory to species accounts are included. 



Figure 5. — A humpback whale lying on 
its left side on the deck of a Canadian 
whaling station. Note the fringes of 
baleen suspended from the roof of the 
mouth. {Photo by J. G. Mead.) 





/•"^SVtlv. 





Figure 7. — The open mouth of an Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin from the 
northeastern Gulf of Mexico. All toothed whales have teeth, which are 
used primarily for grasping rather than lor chewing. The number varies 
from 2 to over 250. though they are buried beneath the gums in females 
and immature animals of several species, take peculiar form in one 
(narwhal), andareextensively worn in others. (PAoto 6vi). K. CaldwelL) 



HOW TO USE THE GUHJE 

To Identify Animals at Sea 

The three major sections of the guide (i.e., large, medium, 
and small whales) are preceded by a directory to species 
accounts, which is a summary of the most obvious 
characteristics of each species and in which summary 
statements about each characteristic are arranged in parallel 
order. To use the guide to identify living animals observed at 
sea, a person or persons should: 

1. First estimate the animal's size and determine whether 
or not it has a dorsal fin. 

2. Note also any distinctive features of body shape and 
coloration and observe its general behavior, including 
swimming, blowing, and diving characteristics. It should be 
noted that coloration may vary somewhat at sea, depending 
on light conditions and water clarity. For example, animals 
which appear dark gray or black at the surface or when dead 
may appear brown in good light or when submerged. Making 
a brief sketch at this point may aid in identifying the animal or 
in later recalling its distinctive features. 

3. Using the directory, locate the section to which the 
animal probably belongs. 

4. Then, for more detailed information, consult the section 
indicated. There you will find a more complete discussion of 
the animal's range, size, and distinctive characteristics. In 
addition, you will find a brief discussion distinguishing it from 
animals with which it is likely to be confused in the field. 



Figure 6. — Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin mother and calf from north- 
eastern Florida. Note the single open blowhole, a characteristic that 
marks these animals as toothed whales. {Photo c<mrte$y of Marmeland 
of Florida.) 



This guide will probably work best if, in advance of 
attempting to use the key in the field, the reader will 
familiarize himself with the general outline, with characters 
or behaviors to note, and with the locations of the various 
species accounts. It will also help if he schools himself to ask a 
series of questions about the animal(s) he sees at the time of 
the encounter rather than depending on his recall at a later 
time (see p. 160). As we have emphasized several times in 
this guide, positive identification of cetaceans at sea can 
only occasionally be made on the basis of a single character- 
istic. Therefore, the greater the amount of pertinent evi- 
dence an observer obtains, the greater the likelihood he can 
make a reliable identification. 



To Identify Stranded Animals 

Stranded animals can best be identified by referring to 
Appendix C and its associated tables, making a preliminary 
determination and then consulting the species accounts in the 
main body of the book for verification of the identification. As 
noted in that appendix, if the animal is recently stranded, 
identification can be made using any of the externally visible 
characteristics described for the living species at sea. But 
even if the animal is in an advanced stage of decomposition, it 
can usually be identified by referring to the key and to the 
numbers and descriptions of baleen plates, for all baleen 
whales, and the numbers and relative lengths of ventral 
grooves, for all balaenopterine whales (Table 1), or to the 
tables on the numbers and descriptions of teeth, for toothed 
whales (Table 2). 



To Record and Report Information 

As discussed in the preface, though learning to identify 
the whales, dolphins, and porpoises one sees may be exciting 
in itself, many persons may want to participate in the 
accumulation of data on these interesting animals by 
routinely reporting their observations to scientists who are 
actively studying them and who can make immediate use of 
the information. The following may help these persons: 

Suggestions for making and recording observations of 
cetaceans at sea and sample data forms are included in 
Appendix C. Similar suggestions for taking and recording 
data on stranded cetaceans are included in Appendix D. For 
both types of data, blank data forms located after the 
appendices may be photocopied in bulk for use in the field. 

Completed data forms and all associated information for 
sightings at sea should be forwarded to the Platforms of 
Opportunity Program, National Marine Fisheries Service, 
Tiburon, CA 94920, or to one of the authors of this guide. 
From there, they will be made available to scientists active- 
ly studying the cetaceans of a given species or geographical 
area. 

Completed data forms and all associated information for 
observations of stranded cetaceans should be forwarded to 
the Division of Mammals, U.S. National Museum, 
Washington, DC 20560, to one of the authors of this guide, 
or to one of the regional laboratories listed in Appendix E. 
These persons have, in turn, been encouraged to keep a free 
flow of information among them. 































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LARGE WHALES 

(40-85 feet [12-26 ml maximum overall length) 



With a Dorsal Fin 

All five species of large whales with a dorsal fin belong to 
the same major baleen whale group, the balaenopterid 
whales or rorquals. All are characterized by the presence of a 
series of ventral grooves, usually visible on stranded 
specimens and the length and number of which are diagnostic 
to species. In addition, all species, with the exception of the 
humpback whale, have at least one distinctive (though often 
not prominent) ridge along the head from just in front of the 
blowhole to near the tip of the snout. (The humpback whale, 
on the other hand, is distinguished by numerous knobs, 
some of which are located along the line of the head ridge, 
with others scattered on the top of the head.) In Bryde's 
whale, the single head ridge characteristic of the other ror- 
quals is supplemented by two auxiliary ridges, one on each 
side of the main ridge. 

At sea, these whales often appear very similar and must 
be examined carefully before they can be reliably identified. 

In general, though the characteristics of behavior may 



vary from one encounter to the next, based on the activities in 
which the animal is engaged, whales in this group may be 
distinguished from each other on the basis of differences in 1) 
the size, shape, and position of the dorsal fin and the timing of 
its appearance on the surface relative to the animal's blow (in 
general, the larger the whale, the smaller the dorsal fin— the 
further back its position and the later its appearance on the 
surface after the animal's blow); 2) the height of body in the 
area of the dorsal fin, relative to the size of the dorsal fin, 
which is exposed as the animal sounds; 3) sometimes the blow 
rate and movement patterns; and 4) the shape and color of the 
head. 

Despite variability in behavior by members of the same 
species from one encounter to the next, an observer can 
greatly increase the reliability of his identification by forming 
the habit of working systematically through a set of 
characteristics for the species rather than depending on any 
single characteristic. 



Body very large, up to 85 feet (25.9 m) long.' 

Body basically bluish with mottlings of grayish white. 

Baleen all black. 

Head broad and nearly U-shaped, viewed from above. 

Head flat in front of blowhole, viewed from side. 

Dorsal fin small (to 13 inches (33 cm]), triangular to moderately 

falcate, in the last one-third of back. 
Distribution primarily from temperate seas to pack ice; rare in 

tropics. 
Distribution more northerly during summer. 
Flukes occasionally raised slightly on long dive. 

Body large, up to 79 feet (24 m) long. 

Body mostly dark gray or brownish gray; undersides of flukes and 

flippers and belly white; grayish-white chevron frequently on 

back behind head. 
Right lower lip white; right upper lip sometimes white; left lip dark. 
Head V-shaped, viewed from above. 

Right front one-third to one-fifth of baleen plates, yellowish white. 
Other baleen bluish gray with yellowish-white stripes. 
Dorsal fin to 24 inches (61 cm), slightly more than one-third forward 

from tail; forms angle of less than 40° with back. 
Distribution extensive but not very common near pack ice and in 

tropics. 
Distribution more northerly during summer. 
Flukes not raised on dive. 



Blue whale 

Balaenoptera musculus 
p. 19 



Fin whale 

Balaenoptera phy solus 
p. 26 



Body up to 62 feet (19 m) long. 

Body appears shiny; dark g^ay on back, often with ovoid 

grayish-white scars; white on front of belly; undersides of 

flippers and flukes dark. 



Sei whale 

Balaenoptera borealis 
p. 32 



'These figures are all near maximum sizes recorded for the North Atlantic. For all species which have historically been ex 
ploited by whale fisheries present maximum sizes may be significantly less than these figures. 

It should also be noted that differences in methods of measurements often account for discrepancies in reported lengths. 



10 



BLUE 



Fl N 



SEI 



BRYDE S 



,4 



Figure 8a. — Swimming, blowing, and diving characteristics of blue, fin, sei, and Bryde's whales. 



Baleen grayish or ash black with fine, light-gray bristles. 

Dorsal fin to 24 inches (61 cm), strongly falcate, well more than one- 
third forward from tail; forms angle of more than 40° with 
back. 

Distribution extensive; are not very common in cold waters and 
may have a greater tendency than fin whales to enter tropi- 
cal waters. 

Distribution more northerly in summer. 

Flukes not raised on dive. 



Body up to 46 feet (14 m) long. 

Body dark gray overall. 

Head has series of three ridges from area of blowhole to snout. 

Baleen slate gray with coarse dark bristles. 

Dorsal fin to 18 inches (45.7 cm), falcate, well more than one-third 

forward from tail, often irregularly worn on rear margin. 
Distribution primarily tropical and southern temperate. 
Flukes not raised on dive. 



Bryde's whale 

Balaenoptera edeni 
p. 37 



11 



HUMPBACK 


BOWHEAD 


RIGHT 


SPERM 


* 



Figure 8b. — Swimming, blowing, and diving characteristics of humpback, bowhead, right, and sperm whales. 



Body up to 53 feet (16.2 m) long. 

Body dark gray with irregular white area on belly; flippers white; 

underside of flukes often has varying amounts of white. 
Head in front of blowhole flat and covered with knobs. 
Baleen dark gray to black with olive-black bristles. 
Dorsal fin small, quite variable in shape, usually hooked, located 

on a step or hump, in last one-third of back. 
Flippers very long (to nearly one-third of body length), white, and 

scalloped on leading edge. 
Distribution at least New England to Iceland and Greenland during 

summer. 
Distribution to shallow tropical banks, winter and spring. 
Flukes often scalloped on trailing edges and sometimes raised on 

dive. 



Humpback whale 

Megaptera novaeangliae 
p. 40 



NOTE: Because of its small adult size, usually less than 30 feet (9. Im), another member of the rorqual family, 
the minke whale, is included with the medium-sized whales in this guide. Features by which it may be 
distinguished from all other rorquals are discussed in the species account. 

Further, inasmuch as the dorsal fin of the humpback whale is highly variable in shape, positive identification 
may require reference to the sperm whale (p. 57), which, though the sperm whale has been classified with 
species without dorsal fin, has a rather distinct dorsal hump, particularly noticeable when the animal arches 
the back and tail to begin a long dive. 



12 



(40-65 feet [12-20 m| maximum overall length) 



Without a Dorsal Fin 

There are three species of large whales without a dorsal 
fin in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Two of these, the 
bowhead or Greenland whale, and its more widely distributed 
close relative the right whale, are baleen whales. The third, 
the sperm whale, is a toothed whale. The first two have 
relatively smooth backs without even a trace of a dorsal fin. 
The sperm whale has a humplike low, thick, dorsal ridge, 
which, from certain views, particularly when the animal is 
humping up to begin a dive, may be clearly visible and look 
like a fin. But because the profile of that hump and the 
knuckles which follow it are often not very prominent in this 
species, it has been classified with the finless big whales. 

All three species are characterized by very distinctive 
blows or spouts. In both the bowhead and the right whales, 
the projection of the blow upward from two widely separated 



blowholes assumes a very wide V-shape with two distinct 
columns, which may be seen when the animals are viewed 
from front or back. Though this character may be visible 
under ideal conditions in many of the other baleen whales 
species as well, it is exaggerated and uniformly distinct in the 
bowhead and right whales and may be used as one of the 
primary key characters. In the sperm whale, the blow 
emanates from a blowhole which is displaced to the left of the 
head near the front and projects obliquely forward to the 
animal's left. This blow seen under ideal conditions positively 
labels a large whale as a sperm whale. 

Remember, however, that wind conditions may affect the 
disposition and duration of the blow of any species and that a 
single character alone is seldom sufficient to permit positive 
identification. 



Body to 65 feet (19.8 m) long. 

Body dark; back smooth. 

Chin and belly often white. 

Head lacks callosities. 

Baleen dark gray with gray fringes; to 12 feet (3.7 m) or more. 

Upper jaw and lower lip strongly arched. 

Two blowholes clearly separated. 

Blow projects upward in wide Vshape. 

Distribution restricted to Arctic waters south to Davis Straits. 

Flukes raised on longer dives. 



Bowhead whale 

Balaena mysticetus 
p. 49 



Body to 53 feet (16.2 m) long. 

Body from dark to light gray and mottled; back smooth; chin and 
belly usually white. 

Head and lower jaw covered with callosities (the largest of which is 
called the bonnet and is set on top of the snout). 

Baleen usually dark gray with dark fringes; to 7.2 feet (2. 2 m). When 
animals swim, mouth agape, near surface; baleen sometimes 
appears pale brownish to yellowish g^ay in color. 

Upper jaw and lower lip strongly arched. 

Two blowholes clearly separated. 

Blow projects upward in wide V-shape. 

Distribution extends from Iceland south at least to Florida and re- 
ported from Texas. 

Flukes raised on longer dives. 



Right whale 

Eubalaena gladalis 
p. 52 



Body to 69 feet (20.9 m) long; males grow significantly larger than 

females. 
Body dark grayish brown to brown; wrinkled in appearance. 
Back has rounded hump followed by knuckles. 
Head boxlike, comprises up to 40% of body length. 
From 18 to 25 functional teeth in each side of narrow lower jaw. 
Single blowhole on left of head at front. 
Blow projects forward obliquely from head and to left. 
Distribution extends from tropics to Arctic; adult males distributed 

farther north. 
Flukes raised on longer dives. 



Sperm whale 

Physeter catodon 
p. 57 



'These figures are near maximum sizes recorded for the North Atlantic. All three species have been heavily exploited by 
whale fisheries. Therefore maximum sizes today may be significantly less than these figures (see text). 

It should also be noted that differences in methods of measurements often account for discrepancies in reported lengths. 



13 



MEDIUM-SIZED WHALES 

(13-32 feet [4-10 m] maximum overall length) 



With a Dorsal Fin 



There are 11 species of medium-sized whales with a dorsal 
fin known from the western North Atlantic. These species, 
taking many diverse forms, range in maximum adult size 
from about 13 feet (4.0 m) (grampus) to about 33 feet (10.1 m) 
(the minke whale). This group includes such widely 
distributed and frequently encountered species as the pilot 
whales, false killer whales, and minke whales, and such 
rarely encountered and poorly known species as the various 
"beaked whales" (Mesoplodon spp. and the goosebeaked 
whale). 



Aside from their common inclusion within the stated size 
range and the presence of a dorsal fin in all species (which 
ranges from only a small nubbin in some of the beaked whales 
to a substantial 5- to 6-foot [1.5- to 1.8-m] sail on adult male 
killer whales), these species have no diagnostic field 
characteristics in common. Therefore, each is discussed in 
detail and is placed in the text in near proximity to those 
species with which it is likely to be confused in the field. 



Body to 30 feet (9.1 m), or more, long. 

Body black or dark gray; area of gray shading on each side just in 

front of and below dorsal fin. 
Flippers have transverse white band. 
Head very sharply V-shaped viewed from above. 
Dorsal fin falcate and distinct; usually appears simultaneous 

with blow. 
Blow often low and indistinct. 

Distribution polar, temperate, and tropical: frequently coastal. 
Often curious about boats. 
Flukes not raised on dive. 

Body to 32 feet (9.8 m) long. 

Body of young uniformly chocolate brown; body of adults brown 

with cream or yellow blotches. 
Head bulbous in adults and white in larger animals; has distinct 

beak. 
Dorsal fin falcate and distinct, in last one-third of back. 
Distribution north temperate and Arctic-offshore. 
Often curious about boats. 
Flukes large, rarely notched; occasionally raised on long dive. 

Body to at least 23 feet (7 m) long. 

Body from dark gray or brown to rust or fawn and splotched with 

white; eyes dark. 
Head of large males white. 
Back frequently scarred with numerous scratches, presumably 

tooth marks. 
Dorsal fin falcate and distinct, in last one-third of back. 
Distribution primarily tropical; extends to temperate. 
Flukes light beneath, sometimes shallowly notched; often raised on 

dive. 

Body to 16-22 feet (4.9-6.7 m) long. 
Body color black to dark gray. 
Back frequently scarred. 
Dorsal fin position varies with species. 
Distribution varies with species. 
Flukes not usually distinctly notched. 

Body to at least 30 feet (9.1 m) long. 

Body black with sharply demarcated white belly and oval white 

patch above and behind eye; gray saddle behind dorsal fin. 
Body chunky. 

Dorsal fin in males can be very tall, sometimes 6 feet (1.8 m). 
Dorsal fin in females and immature animals up to 3 feet (0.9 m), 

distinctly falcate. 



Minke whale 

Balaenoptera acutorostrata 
p. 63 



Northern bottlenosed whale 

Hyperoodon ampuUatus 
p. 67 



Goosebeaked whale 

Ziphius cavirostris 
p. 70 



All other western North Atlantic 
beaked whales 

Mesoplodon spp. 
p. 74 



Killer whale 

Orcinus area 
p. 84 



14 



Distributed from tropics to Arctic; most common in colder waters. 
Often seen in shallow bays and rivers and near shore. 
Flukes may be raised on dive. 

Body to at least 18 feet (5.5 m) long. 

Body black (faint gray blaze on belly between flippers). 

Body slender. 

Head small, tapering. 

Large prominent teeth frequently visible at sea. 

Flippers have distinct hump on leading edge. 

Dorsal fin to 14 inches (35.6 cm), falcate, and from rounded to 

pointed on tip. 
Distribution pelagic tropical to warm temperate seas. 
Frequently ride bow waves. 

Body to at least 22 feet (6.7 m) long. 

Body black with light gray, anchor-shaped area on chest; gray 

saddle sometimes seen behind dorsal fin. 
Head becoming more bulbous with age, somewhat squarish in 

adult males viewed from above. 
Tail humped. 

Flippers long (to one-fifth of body length), sickle-shaped. 
Dorsal fin broad-based, falcate to flaglike, in front half of back. 
Distribution primarily north temperate— about Hatteras north. 
Flukes not usually raised on dive. 

Body to at least 17.5 feet (5.3 m) long. 

Body black with indistinct light gray area on chest; saddle behind 

dorsal fin. 
Head becoming more bulbous with age; square in large adult males 

viewed from above. 
Flippers relatively short (to less than one-sixth of body length). 
Dorsal fin broad-based, falcate to flaglike, in front half of back. 
Distribution tropical and warm temperate; from about Hatteras 

south. 
Flukes not usually raised on dive. 

Body to at least 13 feet (4.0 m) long. 

Body of newborn light gray; darkens with age. 

Body of adults light gray or white; scarred with numerous 

scratches. 
Head blunted, not beaked. 
Forehead has vertical crease in center. 
Dorsal fin less than 15 inches (38.1 cm), rather erect and distinct, 

and dark even in light adults. 
Distribution tropical to temperate. 
Rarely ride bow wave. 



False killer whale 

Pseudorca crassidens 
p. 88 



Atlantic pilot whale 

Globicephala melaena 
p. 91 



Short-finned pilot whale 

Globicephala macrorhynchus 
p. 94 



Grampus 

Grampus griseus 
p. 96 



(13-16 feet [4-5 m] maximum overall length) 



Without a Dorsal Fin 

The only two species of medium-sized cetaceans in the 
western North Atlantic which have no dorsal fin, the Beluga 
or white whale and the Narwhal, share such limited common 



range, well outside the theater of normal boating traffic, that 
they are generally infrequently encountered. 
Both species are easily identifiable when seen. 



Body to 16 feet (4.9 m) long. 

Body of adults all white; young slate gray. 

Small row of bumps along back ridge near midpoint, sometimes 

dark brown. 
Distribution usually near coast from Arctic waters to St. Lawrence 

Gulf and into Hudson Bay. 



Beluga 

Delphinaptems leucas 
p. 99 



15 



Body to 16 feet (4.9 m) long. Narwhal 

Body of adult brownish with grayish spots; body of young dark Monodon monoceros 

bluish gray fading to white belly. ^^2 

Head small; adults may have tusks up to 9 feet long (2.7 m). P' 

Small row of bumps along back ridge. 
Distribution usually in coastal waters from Arctic waters south to 

Labrador coast. 

SMALL WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND PORPOISES 

(less than 13 feet [4 mj maximum overall length) 

With a Dorsal Fin 

The species in this group are not discussed in order near proximity to those animals with which they are likely to 
of length; instead the species of the genus Stenella are treat- be confused in the field, 

ed together and then they and other species are placed in 

Body to 7.5-8 feet (2.3-2.4 m) long. Atlantic spotted dolphin 

Body dark purplish gray on back, lighter gray on sides and belly; Stenella plagiodon 

becomes increasingly spotted with increase in size. ^q4 

Body has spinal blaze and light line from flipper to eye. 
Beak white on tip. 
Rides bow waves. 
Distribution usually in tropical and warm temperate waters; most 

common inside 100-fathom curve of continents. 

Body to at least 7 feet (2.1 m) long. Bridled dolphin 

Body dark gray on back; lighter gray on sides and belly. Stenella frontalis 

Body has no spinal blaze. p ^Qg 

Cape on top of head distinct. 
Bridle: dark lines from eye to rostrum and from flippers to corner 

of mouth. 
Rides bow waves. 
Distribution in tropical waters, primarily in West Indies. 

Body to at least 7 feet (2. 1 m) long. Spinner dolphin 

Body dark gray on back; tan on sides; white on belly. SteneUa longirostris 

Beak often long and slender, usually black above, white below. p hq 

Tip of snout and lips distinctly black. 

Dorsal fin moderately falcate to triangular and very erect. 

Rides bow waves. 

Often jumps and spins on longitudinal axis. 

Distribution in oceanic and coastal tropical waters. 

Body to about 9 feet (2.7 m) long. ^'"^"^ '*°'P'7^ _ 

Body dark gray or bluish gray on back; gray on sides; gray or white SteneUa coeruleoalba - 

on belly. Stenella Styx 

Distinctive black stripes from: 1) eye to anus. 2) eye to flipper. p ^^^3 

Distinctive black blaze from behind dorsal fin to side above flipper. 
Rides bow waves. 
Distribution temperate, subtropical, and tropical; seldom close to 

shore. 

Body to 8.5 feet (2.6 m); usually less than 7.5 feet (2.3 m) long. Saddleback dolphin 

Body brownish gray to black; belly and chest white; crisscross Delphinus delphis 

(hourglass) pattern of yellow tan on sides. j^g 

Distinct black stripe from center of lower jaw to flipper. 
Rides bow waves. 
Distribution temperate and tropical; seldom close to shore. 

16 



Body to at least 8 feet (2.4 m) long. 

Body very robust in front of dorsal fin, resembling cross between 

saddleback dolphin and Atlantic white-sided dolphin. 
Beak very short and indistinct. 
Distinct black stripe from beak to area of anus. 
Dorsal fin and flippers small. 
Distribution tropical (not yet recorded in western North Atlantic). 



Fraser's dolphin 

Lagenoldelphis hosei 
p. 120 



Body to about 9 feet (2.7 m) long. 

Dorsal fin part gray, part black; tall and distinctly falcate. 

Distinctive patch of white on side; tan or yellow coloration below 

and behind dorsal fin, often visible on swimming animal. 
Beak short; all dark. 
Does not usually ride bow waves. 
Distribution Cape Cod to southern Greenland. 



Atlantic white-sided dolphin 

Lagenorhynchus acutus 
p. 123 



Body to about 10 feet (3.1 m) long. 

Dorsal fin all black, tall, and distinctly falcate. 

Two pale areas: one in front, another behind and below dorsal fin; 

visible on swimming animal. 
Beak short, sometimes brushed with white blaze. 
May ride bow waves. 
Distribution Newfoundland north in summer, Cape Cod north in 

winter; common close to shore at Cape Cod in spring. 



White-beaked dolphin 

Lagenorhynchus albirostris 
p. 126 



Body to 12 feet (3.7 m) long. 

Body dark gray on back; lighter gray on sides; belly white to pink. 

Snout robust and short. 

Dorsal fin tall; back curved. 

Ride bow waves; often turn head downwards or to the sides as 

they do so. 
Distribution temperate and tropical, usually within 20 miles of 

shore (often in bays, lagoons, and larger rivers) but extending off 

the continental shelves. 



Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin 

Tursiops truncatus 
p. 128 



Body to approximately 5.6 feet (1.7 m) long. 
Body steel blue to dark brown on back; white on belly. 
Dorsal fin nearly triangular; curves only slightly backward. 
Distribution in Lake Maracaibo and the rivers of Guiana and in the 

near shore coastal waters of northeastern portion of South 

America. 



Guiana dolphin 

SotaMa guianensis 
p. 132 



Body to about 8 feet (2.4 m) long. 

Body dark gray to purplish gray on back with white or pink blotches 

on sides; belly white. 
Body frequently shows numerous white scars. 
Head tapers gradually; beak long and slender; no clear separation of 

beak from forehead. 
May ride bow waves. 
Distribution in deep tropical waters. 



Rough-toothed dolphin 

Steno bredanensis 
p. 135 



Body to 8-9 feet (2.4-2.7 m) long. 

Body black with white belly patch which may extend up sides in 

area of anus. 
Head rounded; no beak; lips white; lower jaw and chin may be 

white. 
Dorsal fin to 15 inches (38 cm) tall, falcate; located near midpoint 

of back. 
Distribution tropical and subtropical. 



Pygmy killer whale 

Feresa attenuata 
p. 138 



17 



Body to about 9 feet (2.7 m) long. Many-toothed blackfish 

Body black on back; light gray on belly. „ i > , 

„ J , , u 1 J 1 • r u* Peponocephala electra 
Head rounded; no beak; underslung jaw; lips white. 

Dorsal fin to 10 inches (25.4 cm), tall, distinctly back curved. P- ^^^ 

Distribution tropical (not yet reported in western North Atlantic). 

Body to about 11 feet (3.4 m) long. Pygmy sperm whale 

Body dark steel gray on back; lighter gray on sides; pinkish to white k h 

on belly (older animals speckled on belly). ^ ^ 

Head blunt; jaw underslung; false gills or bracket marks on side of p. 144 

head. ~ 

Dorsal fin small; located in last one-third of body. 
Has not been reported to ride bow waves. 
Distribution in tropical and temperate waters. 

Body to about 9 feet (2.7 m) long. D^arf sperm whale 

Body dark steel gray on back; lighter gray on sides; pinkish to jCnn^in o,™„o 

white on belly. 
Head blunt; jaw underslung; false gills or bracket marks on side P- ^^° 

of head. 
Body has two small creases on throat. 
Dorsal fin like that of Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin; located near 

midpoint of back. 
Has not been reported to ride bow waves. 
Distribution poorly known; at least from Georgia to the tropical 

seas. 

Body to 5 feet (1.5 m) long. Harbor porpoise 

Body dark brown above and white below; transition zone on sides p, , 

often speckled or streaked; ventral white extends high onto side 

in front of dorsal fin. P- 1^0 

Head rounded; beak small and indistinct. 
Dorsal fin short and triangular. 
Distribution in shallow waters from at least Delaware north; 

generally found inshore; often in bays, river mouths and inlets. 
Does not approach boats. 



18 



BLUE WHALE (B) 

Balaenopteramusculus (Linnaeus 1758) 



Other Common Names 

Sulphur-bottom. 

Description 

Blue whales are the largest living mammals. Though 
reports of maximum length and weight vary from one account 
to another, Antarctic blue whales are known to have reached 
lengths to 100 feet (30.5 m) and weights of over 150 tons 
(136,363 kg]" before stocks were severely depleted by 
whaling operations. North Atlantic blue whales may be 
expected to reach lengths of 80-85 feet (24.4-25.9 m). In all 
known populations of blue whales, females are slightly larger 
than males of the same age. 

Viewed from above, the blue whale's rostrum is broad, 
flat, and nearly U-shaped (actually shaped like a Gothic arch, 
slightly flattened on the tip), with a single ridge extending 
from the raised area just in front of the blowholes towards but 
not quite reaching the tip of the snout. 

The dorsal fin is extremely small [to only 13 inches (33 
cm)] and variable in shape from nearly triangular to 
moderately falcate. In all cases, it is located so far back on the 
animal's tail stock that it is seldom visible until the animal is 
about to begin a dive. 

Blue whales are light bluish gray overall, mottled with 
gray or grayish white. Some animals may have yellowish or 
mustard coloration, primarily on the belly, the result of the 
accumulation of diatoms during long stays in the cooler 
waters to the north. The undersides of the flippers are light 
grayish blue to white. 

The baleen plates are all black. 



Natural History Notes 

The blow or "spout' is tall, to perhaps 30 feet (9.1 m), 
slender, vertical, and not bushy, as is the blow of humpback 
whales, for instance. 

Although the blowing and diving patterns of blue whales 
may vary, depending on the speed of movement and the 
activity of the whale when it is encountered, they may be 
generally described as follows: If the animal is moving slowly, 
the blowhole and part of the head may still be visible when the 
dorsal fin breaks the surface, and the animal may settle 
quietly into the water without exposing the last portion of the 
tail stock or the tail flukes. If the animal is moving more 
quickly, however, or is about to begin a long dive, the 
blowhole disappears below the surface, a broad expanse of 
the back is exposed and disappears, and the dorsal fin 
emerges briefly just before the animal lifts its tail stock and 
flukes slightly above the surface before slipping out of sight. 



' The letter in parentheses indicates whether the species is a baleen (B) 
or a toothed (T) whale. 

'° The largest measured specimen was "just over" 100 feet (30.5 m) ; the 
largest specimen weighed, the 150-ton individual noted above, was 89 feet 
(27.1 m) long. 



In this species it can be generally stated that the maximum 
height of back in the area of the dorsal fin which is exposed 
above the surface as the animal sounds is approximately four 
times the height of the dorsal fin itself. The exposure of the 
tail flukes is unlike that of the humpback whale (Fig. 39), the 
right whale (Fig. 50), or the sperm whale (Fig. 57) in that 
when beginning a long dive all these other species raise the 
flukes high out of the water and usually descend at a steep 
angle. Blue whales lift the flukes only slightly, if at all. 

Blue whales are relatively shallow feeders, feeding as 
they do almost exclusively on "krill" (small shrimplike 
crustaceans), most of which are distributed in the surface 
330 feet (100 m). Blue whales usually occur singly or in 
pairs. 

May Be Confused With 

At sea, blue whales may be confused with fin whales 
(p. 26) and though the two are sometimes difficult to 
distinguish from a distance, the following key differences 
permit identification at close range: 



Blue Whale 



Fin Whale 



COLORATION 



Mottled bluish 
and below. 



All black. 



gray above Gray above, white below; fre- 
quently grayish-white chev- 
ron behind head, right lower 
lip white. 

BALEEN 

Bluish gray with yellowish- 
white strips; front fifth to 
third of baleen on right side 
all white. 



HEAD 



Broad and nearly U-shaped; 
all dark. 



Narrower, more V-shaped; 
right lower lip white. 



DORSAL FIN 



To 13 inches (33 cm); triangu- 
lar to moderately falcate; in 
last third of back; visible well 
after blow. 



To 24 inches (61 cm); falcate; 
located slightly more than a 
third forward from tail 
flukes; usually visible short- 
ly after blow. 



SURFACING AND PREPARING TO DIVE 



Often shows head and blow- 
holes; broad expanse of back 
and much later, dorsal fin. 



Usually rolls higher out of 
water, particularly on long 
dive; dorsal fin visible short- 
ly after blow. 



19 




Figure 9. — Closeup views of swimming blue whales off British Columbia (top) and Baja California (bottom). In both photos note the broad rounded 
appearance of the head and the single, prominent central head ridge. In the animal on the top note also the black baleen plates, barely visible at the 
front of the slightly open mouth. In the animal on the bottom note the pattern of light grayish-white mottling along the back and the raised areas 
around the blowholes. These features clearly mark these animals as blue whales. iPhotoi by R. M. GUmore [top] and K. C. Balcomb [bottom].) 



20 



a- 







-^2SB^Ki?'*'"SSiBr;. 







J*!"'"feJm 



-'•Si. 





Figure 12. — A sequence showing fast-swimming blue 
whales oH southern California. The animal rises rather 
steeply to the suriace (a) , emits a tall, vertical blow (b, c), 
shows its broad bluish back, mottled with grayish white, 
and its small dorsal fin (d, e), and then dives out of sight 
(I). When swimming in this manner, blue whales 
sometimes raise their tail flukes slightly above the 
surface before beginning their long dives (gl. {Photos 
by J. F. Fish [a-f] and K. C. Balcomb [g].) 



23 




-< 




Figure 13. — Two views of blue whales on the ramps of whaling stations in Japan itop) and at Hermitage Bay, Newfoundland (bottom). Note the broad 
rounded appearance of the head, the single central head ridge, and the dark bluish-gray coloration, interrupted only by mottlings of grayish white. In the 
animal on the bottom note the all-black baleen plates, which are very broad relative to their length. (Photos by Japanese Whalet Research Institute, 
courtesy of H. Omura ltop\; and F. W. True, courtesy of U.S. National Museum [bottom].) 



24 



the species to continue their increase, barring renewed 
exploitation. 



Stranded Specimens 

Stranded blue whales can be readily identified by 1) the 
large body size (to 85 feet (25.9 m]); 2) the broad flat head; 3) 



the all black baleen plates (270-395 in number), which are 
usually barely more than twice as long as they are wide; and 
4) the 55-88 ventral grooves extending to the navel or beyond 
(Table 2). 

Depending on the state of decay and the position of the 
stranded specimen, any of the body characteristics described 
for living animals may also be used to positively identify the 
specimen. 






Figure 14. - Dead blue whales, harpooned and afloat off the stern of a factory ship in the Antarctic (top), and on the deck of a whaUng station in western 
Canada (bottom). In both, note the numerous ventral grooves (from 55 to 85 or more) extending to the region of the navel and sometimes beyond, and the 
light coloration of the undersides of the flippers. Even though grooves are often present above the flippers, and occasionally even on the side of the head, 
counts of ventral grooves are usually made between the flippers. {Pkotoa by Japanese Whales Research Institute, courtesy ofH. Omura [top]; ondG. C 
Pike, courtesy of I. MacAslde [bottom].) 



25 



FIN WHALE (B) 

Balaenopteraphysalus (Linnaeus 1758) 



Other Common Names 

Finback whale, finner, razorback, common rorqual. 

Description 

Fin whales have been reported to reach 79 feet (24 m). 
Females are slightly larger than males of the same age. 

The back is distinctly ridged towards the tail, prompting 
the common name "razorback" whale. 

The rostrum is narrower and more V-shaped than that of 
the blue whale and has the same sort of single distinctive head 
ridge. The top of the head is flat, though slightly less than 
that of the blue whale. 

The dorsal fin is up to 24 inches (61 cm) tall; angled less 
than 40° on the forward margin, located slightly more than 
one-third forward from the tail, and appears on the surface 
shortly after the blow. 

All individuals are dark gray to brownish black on the 
back and sides with none of the mottling present on blue 
whales and are rarely as heavily scarred as sei whales. Along 
the back, just behind the head, there is a grayish-white 
chevron, with the apex along the midline of the back and the 
arms of the chevron oriented posteriorly, which is sometimes 
distinctive and may be visible as the animals surface to 
breathe. The undersides, including the undersides of the 
flukes and flippers, are white. On the head, the dark 
coloration is markedly asymmetrical, reaching farther down 
on the left than on the right side. The right lower lip, 
including the mouth cavity, and the right front baleen 
(approximately one-fifth to one-third) are yellowish white. 
Occasionally the right upper lip is also white. The remainder 
of the plates on the right side and all those on the left side are 
striped with alternate bands of yellowish white and bluish 
gray. The fringes of the plates are brownish gray to grayish 
white. 



Natural History Notes 

Fin whales are one of the most common baleen whale spe- 
cies in the world and constitute a major portion of the whaling 
catch. They are reportedly one of the fastest of the big whales 
(sei whales may be slightly faster) possibly reaching burst 
speeds in excess of 20 knots, and were not an important com- 
mercial species until the comparatively recent development of 
fast catcher boats and the depletion of blue whale stocks. 

A fin whale's blow can be from 15 to 20 feet (4.6 to 6.1 m) 
tall and has been described as an inverted cone or an 
elongated ellipse. 

Fin whales dive to at least 755 feet (230. 1 m). This depth is 
probably deeper than that of either blue or sei whales, a 
factor usually reflected in differences among the surfacing, 
blowing, and diving characteristics of these three species. 
When they are moving leisurely at the surface, fin whales 
expose the dorsal fin shortly after the appearance of the 
blowholes, slightly later than that of the sei whales. When 
they are surfacing from a deeper dive, however, they surface 
at a steeper angle, blow, submerge the blowholes, and then 



arch the back and dorsal fin high into the air before beginning 
another long dive. In this species it can be generally stated 
that the maximum amount of the back in the area of the dorsal 
fin which is exposed above the surface as the animal sounds is 
approximately 2 times the height of the dorsal fin. Fin whales 
do not show their tail flukes when beginning a dive. 

Unlike blue or sei whales, fin whales do breach on 
occasion. When they do leap clear of the water, fin whales 
usually reenter with a resounding splash, like that made by 
humpback and right whales and not smoothly, head first, as 
minke whales often do. 

Fin whales are sometimes found singly or in pairs but 
more often occur in pods of six or seven individuals and many 
pods consisting of as many as 50 animals may be concentrated 
in a small area. 

Fin whales calve and breed in winter, mostly in temperate 
waters. 

Atlantic fin whales eat a wide variety of foods, including 
krill, capelin, squid, herring, and lanternfish. 

May Be Confused With 

Fin whales may be confused with blue whales, sei whales, 
and, in the southernmost portion of their range, with Bryde's 
whales. They may be distinguished from the blue whales by 
differences in overall coloration, coloration and shape of the 
head, and the size, position, and time of appearance of the 
dorsal fin at the surface (see p. 19). After close examination 
they may be distinguished from Bryde's whales by the 
presence of three ridges along the head (of the Bryde's whale) 
and by the smaller, more sharply pointed falcate dorsal fin of 
the Bryde's whale (see Fig. 31). They may be distinguished 
from sei whales in the following similar ways: 



Fin Whale 



Sei Whale 



DORSAL FIN 



Slightly falcate, forms angle 
of less than 40° with back 
slightly more than one-third 
forward from tail. 



Sharply pointed and falcate; 
forms angle of greater than 
40° with back well more than 
one-third forward from tail. 



SURFACING BEHAVIOR 



Usually rise obliquely so top 
of head breaks surface first; 
after blowing, animal arches 
its back and rolls forward 
exposing the dorsal fin on the 
long dive; on sounding, the 
maximum amount of back in 
the area of the dorsal fin 
which is exposed is approxi- 
mately 2 times the height of 
dorsal fin. 



Primarily skimmer feeders; 
usually rise to surface at 
shallow angle so that dorsal 
fin and head are visible 
almost simultaneously; when 
starting the long dive does 
not usually arch the back as 
much as the fin whale; on 
sounding, the maximum 
amount of back in the area of 
the dorsal fin which is 
exposed is approximately 1 
times the height of the dorsal 
fin. 



26 



BLOW 



Tall (to 20 feet (6.1 m]); 
inverted cone (point down) 
or elongated ellipse. 



Similar shape but smaller— 
rarely taller than 10-15 feet 
(3.1-4.6 m). 



COLOR OF LOWER LIP 
White on right, gray on left. Gray. 

BALEEN PLATES 



DIVING 



Dive for 5-15 (usually 6-7) 
min; blow 3-7 times or more 
at intervals of up to several 
minutes, then dive again. 



Dive for 3-10 min; usually 
blow at even intervals over 
long periods of time; often 
visible just below the sur- 
face, even on longer dives. 



Ash black with a blue tinge 
and fine grayish bristles. 



COLOR OF UNDERSIDES 



White higher up on right 
than on left side. 



Mostly gray; irregular whit- 
ish area on belly. 



Right one-fifth to one-third 
in front white; all others 
alternate bands of yellowish 
white and bluish gray; bris- 
tles grayish white. 

Distribution 



Fin whales are probably the most numerous and widely 
distributed large whale species in the western North 
Atlantic. 






y J' 



Figure 15. —The heads of fin whales surfacing to breathe off Japan and in the northern North Atlantic ( inse tl . When they can be approached from the right 
side, fin whales can be positively distinguished from the other large balaenopterine species by the white coloration of the right lower lip and the flat, narrow 
head. Note also the single central head ridge. [J>hotoi by Japaneie Whales Research Institute, courtesy of H. Omura, and K. C. BaUomb [inset].) 



27 




-••J«!^ 



Figure 16. — A gmall group of fin whales off British Columbia. Fin whales may be found in groups of up to six or seven individuals and these groups may 

congregate in feedinggrounds. {Photo by G. C. Pike, courtesy of L MacAalde.) 





Figure 17.— The back ol a harpooned fin whale in the eastern North Pacific (left) and in the North Atlantic (right). In both note the light grayish-white 
chevrons just behind the head. These chevrons are not usually very distinctive in North Atlantic fin whales. In the animal in the left photo note also the 
prominent ridge along the back behind the dorsal fin— a characteristic which prompted the common name "razorback." {Photos courtesy of Los 

Angeles Examiner [left] and K. C. Balcomb [right]. ) 



Figure 19. — As they begin a long dive, fin whales frequently arch the tail 
stock high into the air, exposing the dorsal fin. Even on a long dive, 
however, this species is not known to throw its tail flukes high into the 
air or even to raise them slightly, as blue whales sometimes do when 
beginning a long dive. {Photo from off Virgima by J. G. Mead. ) 



28 



Fin whales summer from below the latitude of Cape Cod, 
Mass., north to the Arctic Circle. (They are frequently seen 
between New York and Bermuda this time of year.) Within 
this zone they may sometimes be seen very close to shore and 
appear to be concentrated between shore and the 
1,000-fathom curve from at least lat. 41°20' to 57°00'N. In 
recent years they have been reported in relatively large 
numbers in the Gulf of Maine from March through June, off 
Newfoundland as early as June but increasing to August, and 
entering Davis Straits and beyond in substantial numbers in 
midsummer to late summer. There is some evidence that the 
animals venturing farthest north are the largest individuals 
of the species. Movements of the population(s) southward 
have usually begun by October, though some fin whales 
sometimes remain in the northern seas sufficiently long to 
become trapped in the ice and killed. 

During winter the range of fin whales spreads out from 
the advancing ice southward, reaching at least to the coast of 
Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, and to the Greater Antilles, 
though fin whales are not at all common in tropical waters. 
During the winter many fin whales move into offshore 



waters. Northward migrations probably begin in midspring. 

Fin whales may be found in Cape Cod waters all year 
long. 

There may be two or possibly three separate stocks of fin 
whales in the western North Atlantic, one more northern 
cold-adapted stock and another more southern stock. The 
ranges of the two stocks appear to overlap, such that the 
winter range of the northern stock probably becomes the 
spring and summer range of the more southern stock. The 
third stock may consist of an isolated population in the 
northern Gulf of Mexico. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded fin whales may be most readily identified by 1) 
the yellowish-white coloration of the right front baleen and 
the right white lower lip; 2) the numerous baleen plates 
(262-473 in number); 3) the numerous ventral grooves (56-100 
in number) extending to the navel and beyond (Table 2); and 
4) the broad, flat sharply pointed head with only a single head 
ridge. 




lt!^r« *'~^"'^r"*i',° "*"!.*.' "'T ?* 1'*"'' ""^ '"'""'' *''*° *''* ^heellike silhouette of the back, and then the dorsal fin. Note that in this species the 
S^Zt" travel"; '"''"'"'''''"' "'^*' ""' "^^^^ 



"•"^^JiiMBMliM^. 




29 



Figure 20. — Probably a fin whale (perhaps a 
Bryde's whale) breaching in the eastern tropical 
Pacific. This type of behavior has been described 
for humpback, minke, and fin whales but is far more 
common for the first two species. Breaching fin 
whales often reenter the water with a resounding 
splash, much like humpback whales, but sometimes 
smoothly, head first, as minkes sometimes 
do. (Photo by K. D. Sexton, courtesy of National 
Marine Fisheries Service. ) 



Figure 21 . — A head-on view of a fin whale stranded 
at Ormond Beach, Fla. Note the flat narrow 
appearance of the head and the single, central head 
ridge. {Photo by F. Essapian, courtesy of Marine- 
land of Florida.) 




30 




Fi^re 22. — Id this partly flensed fin whale, at Blanford, Nova Scotia, note the white lower lip and the white baleen in the right front. The inset photo shows 
the right upper jaw of a fin whale with the baleen intact. {Photos by H. E. Wmn, and from the North Pacific by Japanese Whales Research Institute, 
courtesy of H. Omura [inset].) 






v*». 




Figure 23. — A fin whale on the ramp of the whaUng station also at Blanford, Nova Scotia. Note the ventral grooves, 56 to 100 and extending at 

least to the navel. iPhoto by L. Rigley.) 



31 



SEI WHALE (B) 

Balaenoptera horealis Lesson 1828 



Other Common Names 

Pollack whale, sardine whale, Rudolphi's rorqual. 

Description 

Sei (pronounced "say") whales have been reported to 
reach 62 feet (19 m). 

The snout is less acutely pointed than that of the fin whale 
but when viewed from the side appears slightly arched. In 
general, the head is intermediate in shape between that of the 
blue whale and that of the fin whale. The dorsal fin, which is 
from 10 to 24 inches (25.4 to 61 cm) tall and strongly falcate in 
adult animals, is located about two-thirds of the way back on 
the back, farther forward than that of the blue or fin whales. 
Sei whales are dark steel gray on the back and sides, and on 
the posterior portion of the ventral surface. The body often 
has a galvanized appearance due to scars possibly resulting 
from lamprey bites inflicted during migrations into warmer 
waters. These scars may be dark gray to almost white in 
color. On the belly there is a region of grayish white that is 
confined to the area of the ventral grooves. Neither the 
flippers nor the tail flukes are white underneath. The right 
lower lip and the mouth cavity, unlike those of the fin whale, 
are uniformly gray. The baleen plates are uniformly grayish 
black with fine grayish-white fringes. (A small number of sei 
whales have been noted to have a few half- white plates near 
the front of the mouth, a feature which might result in their 
confusion with fin whales.) 

Natural History Notes 

The blow of sei whales is an inverted cone rarely taller 
than 15 feet (4.6 m). 

Sei whales are generally skimmer feeders and do not 
usually dive very deeply. For that reason they usually surface 
at a shallower angle than fin whales. The head rarely 
emerges at a steep angle (except when the whales are 
chased). Instead, the blowholes and a major portion of the 
back, including the dorsal fin, become visible almost 
simultaneously and remain visible for relatively long periods 
of time. In this species it can be generally stated that the 
amount of the back in the area of the dorsal fin which is 
exposed above the surface as the animal sounds is 
approximately the same height as the dorsal fin. When they 
begin another dive, sei whales do not arch the tail stock or 
flukes high. Instead, they normally submerge by slipping 
quietly below the surface, often remaining in view only a few 
feet down and leaving a series of tracks or swirls on the 
surface as they move their tail flukes. When they are feeding 
in this manner, sei whales may exhibit a highly regular 
blowing and diving pattern over long periods of time. 

Sei whales usually travel in groups of from two to five 
individuals, though they may concentrate in large numbers 
on the feeding grounds. 

In the northern portion of their range, sei whales feed on 
copepods. Throughout the remainder of the range, however, 
their food is more varied and also includes krill and a variety 



of small schooling fishes. The species derived its common 
name, in fact, from its frequent occurrence with or near sei 
fish. 

May Be Confused With 

The sei whale's smaller size and decidedly taller, more 
falcate dorsal fin located well more than one-third forward 
from the tail should prevent confusion with the blue whale. At 
a distance, however, sei whales are difficult to distinguish 
from either fin whales or Bryde's whales. The primary clues 
for distinguishing them from fins are the differences in 
swimming, blowing, and diving characteristics tabularized in 
detail on p. 26 and the asymmetrical coloration of the fin 
whale. 

Sei whales may be distinguished from Bryde's whales only 
upon close examination. The dorsal fin of Bryde's whales is 
small, to 18 inches (45.7 cm), sharply pointed, and often worn 
on the rear margin. If close examination is possible, the sei 
whale will be seen to have only a single head ridge. Bryde's 
whales have two additional ridges— one on each side of the 
main ridge. Bryde's whales are primarily fish feeders and 
their diving behavior more closely resembles that of a fin 
whale than that of a sei whale. (See p. 37). 

Distribution 

The distribution and migrations of the sei whale during 
most of the year are rather poorly known. The species is 
known to avoid the colder regions near the pack ice and to 
range from Iceland south to the northeast Venezuelan coast 
and the northeast and southwest Gulf of Mexico. There are 
also records from Cuba and the Virgin Islands. Along the 
northeast United States and eastern Canadian coasts, where 
most research on sei whales has been conducted, the species 
migrates from New England through the Blanford, Nova 
Scotia area in June and July, is found in small numbers off 
eastern Newfoundland in August and September (abundant 
in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in August), and continues 
northward to the Davis Straits in September and October. 
An offshore stock may be found year-round in the Labrador 
Sea. The summer range (May to September or October) 
extends from New England to southern Arctic waters. 
Though some individuals remain behind through November, 
the southward movement of the bulk of the population 
presumably begins in October. In general, sei whales do not 
venture as far north as fin whales but may have a greater 
tendency to enter tropical waters. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded sei whales are most likely to be confused with fin 
whales or Bryde's whales. The three head ridges of the 
Bryde's whale (sei whales have only one) assist in distinguish- 
ing sei whales from Bryde's whales. They may be distin- 
guished from fin whales and all other rorquals by the follow- 
ing characteristics: 1) The color of the baleen plates— uni- 
formly ash black with a blue tinge and fine white bristles 



32 



(Table 2). 2) The density of bristles on the plates— sei whales 
have from 35 to 60 baleen fringes per centimeter; all other 
rorquals have far fewer (less than 35). 3) The relative lengths 
of the ventral grooves— the grooves of sei whales end well 
before the navel; those of blue, fin, and Bryde's whales 



extend at least to the navel. 4) The relatively small numbers 
of ventral grooves (38-56)— both blue and fin whales have 
more; Bryde's whales have approximately the same number. 
If the animal is not in an advanced state of decomposition, 
the region of white coloration of the belly may also be visible. 




Figure 24.— The head of a sei whale is intermediate in shape between that of the blue whale and that of the fin whale. When 
viewed from the side it is slightly arched. Note the single central head ridge, from just in front of the blowholes to near the tip of 
the snout. Bryde's whales, with which sei whales are most likely to be confused in the tropical and subtropical portions of their 
range, have two auxiliary ridges, one on each side of the top of the head, in addition to this main central ridge. (Photo from the 
North Pacific by Japanese Whalei Research Institute, courtesy of H. Omura.) 




Figure 25. — Sei whales are dark gray on the right lower lip. They can be distinguished from fin whales, 
which have a white right lower Up, by approaching them from the right side. {Photo from the North 
Pacific by Japanese Whales Research Institute, courtesy of H. Omuro.) 



33 



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34 






lain. 



Figure 27. — A freshly dead gei whale from the Pacific (top) and a stranded specimen in an advanced stage of decomposition at Cape Island, S.C. (bottom 
and inset). Note that even though the distinctive coloration of the fresh specimen has faded on the rotting specimen, the numbers and lengths of the 
ventral grooves (38 to 56 in number and stopping well short of the navel) still permit the specimen to be distinguished from fin, blue, and Bryde's whales, 
in all of which the grooves extend at least to the navel. {Photos by Japanete Whales Research Institute, courtesy of H. Omura [top]; and J. G. 

Mead [bottom and inset].) 

35 



T^ 



r- 



rS,^*^fc*:l 





Figure 28. — Dorsal view of a sei whale on the deck of a whaUng 
ship in the North Pacific. Note the numerous scars on the body and 
the otherwise dark gray coloration of the back. {Photo by 
Japanese Whales Research Irutitute, courtesy of H. Omura. ) 



Figure29.— The right upper jaw of the sei whale stranded at Cape 
Island. S.C. The baleen plates, here partly buried in the sand, 
numbering from 318 to 340 per side and uniform dark gray with 
fine Ughter gray bristles, continue to serve as identifying 
characteristics even on a badly decomposed specimen. [Photo by 
J. G. Mead.) 



36 



BRYDE'S WHALE (B) 

Balaenoptera edeni Anderson 1879 



Other Common Names 

None known. 
Description 

Bryde's whales reach a maximum length of approximately 
46 feet (14 m). They closely resemble sei whales in external 
appearance. At a distance, the head of this species is similar 
in profile and general appearance to that of the sei whale. The 
most distinctive field characteristic of the species, however, 
is the presence of three ridges along the head anterior to the 
blowhole. In addition to the medial ridge characteristic of all 
the other balaenopterid species, Bryde's whales have two 
secondary ridges on the top of the head — one along each side 
even with the blowhole running forward towards the tip of 
the snout. If they can be examined at close range, Bryde's 
whales can be positively identified by this character alone. 

The dorsal fin of Bryde's whales is up to 18 inches (45.7 cm) 
tall, extremely falcate, pointed on the tip, located well more 
than one-third forward from the tail, and is often irregularly 
notched or frayed on the rear margin from unknown causes. 
Bryde's whales are dark gray overall, though some 
individuals, like some minke whales, have a small region of 
g^ay on each side just forward of the dorsal fin. 

Natural History Notes 

Bryde's whales, like minke whales, reportedly often 
approach close to vessels as if curious about them. During this 
time they may be examined carefully and their identifying 
characteristics seen. 

Though euphausiids may be an important food for this 
species in limited areas, Bryde's whales often feed on 
schooling fish (including pilchards, anchovies, herring, and 
mackerel). This food preference is reflected in the diving 
behavior of the species. Bryde's whales are not "skimmer" 
feeders; they are deeper divers. When they surface to 
breathe, they often rise more steeply to the surface, exposing 
much of the head, roll the body sharply, and hump up the tail 
stock before beginning another dive. In this species, as in the 
fin whale, it can be generally stated that the amount of the 
back which is exposed above the surface as the animal sounds 
is approximately twice the height of the dorsal fin. They 
apparently do not raise the tail flukes when beginning a dive. 

May Be Confused With 

At sea Bryde's whales may be confused with sei whales, 
fin whales, and perhaps minke whales. 

They may be most readily distinguished from sei whales 
by the characteristics discussed on p. 32 and by differences in 



diving behavior. The shallow- feeding sei whales surface and 
blow at regular intervals over long periods of time. Bryde's 
whales are deeper divers, less likely to surface, and blow at 
evenly spaced intervals. If they are seen only briefly or at a 
distance, however, the two species may be impossible to, 
differentiate. 

During the winter months, when fin whales may venture 
into tropical waters, they may also be confused with Bryde's 
whales. But fin whales seldom exhibit curiosity about boats. 
In addition, the dorsal fin of the fin whale is larger, is located 
farther back on the back than that of Bryde's whale, and does 
not become visible as soon after the blow. It is also less likely 
to be worn on the rear margin than that of a Bryde's whale. 

The head of the fin whale is more acutely pointed. 
Furthermore, the right lower lip and the right front baleen of 
the fin whale are white. The baleen and the right lower lip of 
Bryde's whales are dark gray. If the animals can be 
approached closely from the right side, positive identification 
is possible using these differences in color. 

Like Bryde's whales, minke whales often approach close 
to vessels. But minke whales have an acutely pointed snout, a 
single head ridge, and a white band on each flipper. Further, 
minke whales rarely reach 30 feet (9. 1 m) in maximum length. 

Distribution 

The distribution of Bryde's whales is rather poorly 
known, no doubt in part, because the species is difficult to 
positively identify at sea, and records of its occurrence may 
have often been confused with those of sei whales, fin whales, 
or minke whales. From stranded animals and confirmed 
sightings at sea, the species appears to be found primarily 
near shore in areas of high productivity in tropical or 
subtropical waters, though it ventures into warmer 
temperate waters as well. It has been reported from Virginia 
south into the northeast Gulf of Mexico and the southeast 
Caribbean, and southern West Indies (Curacao and Granada). 
To date no migration has been described for the species. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded Bryde's whales can be positively identified by 
the three ridges along the top of the head from the area of the 
blowhole to the tip of the snout. All other species of 
balaenopterid whales, except humpback whales have but a 
single ridge. If the head of a stranded specimen is buried in 
sand, is decomposed beyond recognition, or is otherwise 
inaccessible for identification, Bryde's whales can still be 
distinguished from sei whales by differences in the relative 
lengths of the ventral grooves (Table 2) and from both the fin 
whale and the sei whale by differences in the characteristics 
of the baleen plates (Table 2). 



37 




Figure 30. —On the head of this Bryde's whale off La Jolla, Calif, two of the three head ridges characteristic of the species, the main ridge and the left 
auxiliary ridge, are clearly visible. These ridges permit this animal to be positively identified as a Bryde's whale. {Photo by F. Morejohn.) 








/ ^ttt * 



K.tA 



if .t tA 




Figure 31. -Bryde's whales in the Gulf of CaUfornia and north of Hawaii (inset). In both, note the tall, sickle-shaped appearance of the dorsal fin, much like 
that of the sei whale. In the animal in the larger photo note the ragged rear margin of the dorsal fin, a frequently observed characteristic in Bryde's whales. 
In the animal on the left note also the region of gray on the sides m front of the dorsal fin. (Photo» by W. C. Cummings and S. Okrumi [intet]. ) 



38 



■f H 




Figure 32. -Stranded Bryde's whales at Walnut Point, Va. (top) and Panacea. Fla., Gulf of Mexico (bottom). In both animalB note the head shape similar to 
that of the sei whale, and the three distinct head ridges. In the animal on the bottom, note that the two outermost ridges have their origin in grooves beside 
the blowholes. In the animal on the top, note also the baleen plates, up toat least 300 per side and dark gray with coarse gray bristles. There is frequently a 
rather wide interval at the front of the mouth between the left and right rows of baleen. {Photos by U.S. National Mutevm, courtesy of J. G. Mead Hop] 
and M. B. Rank, courtesy of Wide World Photos [bottom]. ) 



39 



HUMPBACK WHALE (B) 

Megapteranovaeangliae (Borowski 1781) 



Other Common Names 




Humpbacked whale, bunch, hump whale, or hunchbacked 
whale. 

Description 

Humpback whales reach a length of 53 feet (16.2 m). 

The body is robust, narrowing rapidly on the tail stock. 
The head is quite broad and rounded, somewhat like that of 
the blue whale. The head ridge characteristic of other 
balaenopterid species is indistinct and is replaced in 
prominence by a string of fleshy "knobs" or protuberances, 
many more of which are randomly distributed on the top of 
the head and on the lower jaw. There is a distinctive rounded 
projection near the tip of the lower jaw. Humpback whales 
carry many barnacles and whale lice. The baleen plates are all 
black with black or olive-black bristles. 

The flippers are very long (nearly a third as long as the 
body), are scalloped on at least the leading edge, and are 
nearly all white. 

The dorsal fin, located slightly more than two-thirds of the 
way back on the back in approximately the same position as 
that of the fin whale, is small and varies in size and shape from 
a small, triangular nubbin to a more substantial, sharply 
falcate fin. The dorsal fin frequently includes a step or hump, 
which is quite distinct when the animal arches its back to 
begin a dive and from which the species derives its common 
name. 

Humpback whales are basically black in color with a white 
region of varying size on the belly, which upon close 
examination may often be seen to be crosshatched with thin 
dark lines; the flippers and the undersides of the flukes also 
are white. 

Natural History Notes 

The blow of humpback whales is from 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 
3.1 m) tall and has been described as balloon-shaped. It is 
wide relative to its height. Feeding humpback whales 
habitually blow 4-8 times at intervals of 15-30 s after a long 
dive. In the tropics they habitually blow 2-4 times in 
succession when beginning a long dive. In diving, humpback 
whales throw the tail flukes high into the air, exposing the 
sometimes white undersurface and the rippled rear margin. 

Humpback whales often leap clear of the water, raise a 
flipper, and slap it against the water, or "lobtail," raising the 
tail high into the air and bringing it crashing back to the water 
in a loud report. Often, particularly when they are 
encountered on their tropical breeding grounds, humpback 
whales will be found lying on their sides with a long flipper in 
the air. 

Humpback whales feed on krill and schooling fish. 

May Be Confused With 

From a distance humpback whales may be confused with 
any of the other large balaenopterid (rorqual) whales— blue. 



fin, sei, or Bryde's. Although it is highly variable, the dorsal 
fin most closely resembles that of the blue whale. However, it 
is located farther forward on the back. Humpback whales 
distinguish themselves from the remainder of the rorquals by 
their habit of raising the flukes high into the air when starting 
a long dive. (In very shallow water they may not raise the 
flukes at all.) The only other rorqual to do so — the blue 
whale — raises the flukes slightly or not at all. 

Under some conditions humpback whales may be 
confused with sperm whales at a distance. When arching the 
back to begin a dive, both may show a distinct hump. Both 
species frequently raise their flukes nearly vertically when 
beginning a long dive but differ in several ways. The flukes of 
humpback whales show varying amounts of white beneath, 
are pointed on the tips, and are distinctly concaved and 
irregularly rippled on the rear margin. Those of sperm 
whales are all dark and more flattened and even along the 
rear margin. Further the species can be distinguished in the 
following ways: 



Humpback Whale 



Sperm Whale 



BLOW 



Projects upwards from cen- 
ter of head. Usually blows 
4-8 times (2-4 times in 
tropics) before diving. 



Projects obliquely forward 
from left side of tip of snout. 
Usually blows many times 
(20-50 or more) beforediving. 



Raised area around blow 
holes, knobs on upper sur 
face. 



HEAD 

Blunted, long, smooth. 



FLUKES 

Often white underneath. Smooth, 
concaved and scalloped on margin, 
rear margin, deeply notched. 

FLIPPERS 



all black on rear 



Extremely long (to one-third 
of body), white and scalloped 
on leading edge. 



Short; all black. 



DORSAL FIN (OR HUMP) 



Triangular to falcate fin, 
including a step or hump in 
front of the dorsal fin; 
smooth. 



Rounded hump, two-thirds 
back on back followed by 
knuckles or crenulations. 



When they can be examined at close range, humpback 
whales can be easily distinguished from all other large whale 
species with a dorsal fin by the tuberosities or knobs on the 
head, by the long white flippers scalloped on the leading edge, 
by the small distinctive dorsal fin, and by their distinctive tail 
flukes. 



40 








•^ vB^a^^o.-- 




Figure33. — Three views of blowing humpback whales. The blow of this species is usually less than 10 feet (3.1 m) tall, wider than it is high, and has been 
described as balloon-shaped. In the photo on the top, the wind has ab-eady begun to distort the blow. In the photo on the bottom, two separate columns are 
visible. All baleen whales have a bipartite blowhole, and if an observer is directly behind or in front of either the right whale or the humpback whale under 
ideal wind conditions, the blows of these two species may appear as two distinct spouts. {Photos from West Indies by H. E. Winn [top and middle] and 
from off St. Augustine, Fla. by D. K. Caldwell [bottom].) 



41 




Figure 34. — Head views of surfacing humpback whales. Note the rather broad 
rounded appearance of the top of the head and the small head ridge, which extends 
from just in front of the blowholes to near the tip of the snout. In humpback whales 
the single central head ridge characteristic of most balaenopterid species is replaced 
in prominence by a series of knobs, some of which are oriented along the same line as 
the head ridge. On the animal in the inset photo note also the characteristic rounded 
projection below the tip of the lower jaw, heavily encrusted with barnacles. (PAotOt 
from off St. Aiiguitme, Flo. by D. K. Caldwell and from Weit Indies by H. E. Wirni 
[inset]. ) 




Figure 35. — A mother humpback whale with her newborn calf off the northern West Indies. Newborn humpback whales are from 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 ml 
long and are colored like the adults. Note the mother's long white pectoral flipper, clearly visible below the surface. {Photo by H. E. Winn. ) 



42 




Figure 36.— Humpback whales fall back into the water after breaching. Note the long flippers, distinctly scalloped on the leading edge. In the 
animal on the top, note also the knobs on the head, visible in profile, the cluster of barnacles located on the rounded projection below the tip of the lower 
jaw, and the throat grooves. iPkotoi off Baja CaHforma by K. C. Balcomb [top] and off Bermuda by C. Leventon [bottom].) 



43 



Distribution 



Stranded Specimens 



In the western North Atlantic, humpback whales are 
widely distributed from north of Iceland, Disko Bay and west 
of Greenland, south to Venezuela and around the tropical 
islandsof the West Indies. They have been reported from the 
central and eastern Gulf of Mexico. Summer ranges extend at 
least from New England north to the pack ice, and feeding 
concentrations may be found in any portion of this region. 
During winter, humpback whales migrate southward to the 
shallow borderlands of Bermuda, to the Bahamas, and to the 
West Indies to calve and mate. 



The most distinctive features of stranded humpback 
whales are 1) the ventral grooves, 14-22 in number, very wide 
and extending to the navel; 2) the tuberosities of the snout 
and lower jaw, often the sites of numerous barnacle colonies; 
3) the long flippers (to nearly a third of the total body length); 
and 4) the distinctive rounded projection near the tip of the 
lower jaw. 

If these characteristics are not sufficiently clear, the 
species may be identifiable by the characteristics of the 
baleen plates (Table 2). 





Figure 37. —Often, particularly on their tropical breeding grounds, humpback whales lie on their sides at the surface, the long white pectoral fUpper in the 
air. Note the pronounced scalloping on the leading edge. {PhotoinearWe$tIndiei by C. McCann[top]andH. E. Winn [bottom].) 



44 



3flfeai^ 






Figure 38. — A series showing the extreme variability in dorsal fin shapes of humpback whales: (a) a small ridge, (b) sUghtly falcate, (cl triangular with a 
pronounced hump, (d) slightly rounded, (e) distinctly rounded, and (f) taller and more distinctly falcate. {Photos from northern West Indies by H. 
E. Winn [a, c, e\ and C. McCann [b]; off Baja CaUfomia by K. C. Balcomb |<fl; and off St. Augmtine, Fla. by D. K. CaUweli \f\.) 



45 



a 












Figure 39. —The humpback whale is the only large whale species with a distinct dorsal fin which regularly raises its tail flukes when beginning a long div;. 
When it does so, the scalloped trailing edge is often visible (f , g, h). When the diving whale is seen from the rear, the varying degree of white coloration on 
the undersides of the flukes aids in identification ( h ) . (Photos from, northern North A tlantic by K. C. Balcomb [a-f], from West Indies by C. McCann 
[g], and from off Massachusetts by W. A. Watkins [A].) 



46 




Figure 40. — DetaQ of the head of a humpback whale harpooned off Japan. Note the knobs along; the top of the head and on the lower jaw, the rounded 
projection near the tip of the lower jaw and the wide ventral grooves. The large mass of tissue to the left of the animal is its tongue . In the inset photo from a 
Canadian whaUng station, note the baleen plates, less than 3 feet (0.9 m) long and dark oUve green to black in color. {Photos by Japanese Whales Research 
Institute, courtesy of H. Omura; and J. G. Mead [inset]. ) 




Figure 41 . — A humpback whale on the deck of a whaUng station in western Canada. All of the species' most distinctive characteristics are evident in this 
photograph: 11) the hump and the dorsal fin; (2) the knobs on the top of the snout; and (3) the long flipper, with numerous barnacles attached to its 
leading edge. (Photo by G. C. Pike, courtesy of I. MacAskie.) 



47 




Figure 42. — North Atlantic humpback whales have from 14 to 20 broad, widely spaced ventral grooves which extend about to the navel. Those grooves 
remain good diagnostic characters for considerable periods after the animal's death, as evidenced in the freshly killed specimen from Newfoundland (top) 
and the badly decomposed stranded animal from New Jersey (bottom). (Photos from U.S. National Museum, courtesy of J. G. Mead.) 



48 



BOWHEAD WHALE (B) 

Balae-immysticetus Linnaeus 1758 



Other Common Names 

Greenland whale, Arctic right whale, great polar whale. 

Description 

Bowhead whales, so-called because of the high-arching 
jaws and the resultant contour of the head, reach a maximum 
length of about65feet(19.8m). They are extremely robust in 
form. 

When viewed from the side, some swimming bowhead 
whales show two characteristic curves to the back: the first 
extends from the tip of the snout to just behind the blowholes; 
the second, encompassing the entire back, begins just behind 
the head and extends all the way to the tail. This character 
may be present only in adult animals and may be more 
pronounced in males. Younger animals, particularly females, 
are often stubbier and somewhat barrel-shaped behind the 
head. In all animals the back is smooth, lacking even a trace of 
a dorsal fin. 

The head of the bowhead whale is smooth, black, and 
without the bonnet and the "rock-garden," the colorful 
clusters of callosities characteristic of the black right whale. 
The blowholes are widely separated, and the blow emanating 
from them projects upward as two separate, distinct spouts. 
Though two separate columns sometimes may be visible 
under windless conditions in the blows of most mysticetes, 
this feature is exaggerated and is most characteristic in the 
bowhead and right whales. 

Bowhead whales are black overall, except for a white 
"vest" of uneven coloration on the chin. Within that vest, near 
the sides of the white zone, there may be a series of grayish 
black to black spots, which on some animals have been likened 
to a string of beads. The vest is clearly visible when a 
surfacing animal is viewed from the front or the side or when 
the animals hang vertically in the water with the head on the 
surface and the tail flukes down, as they do during periods of 
early spring mating. 



Natural History Notes 

Bowhead whales are ususally found singly or in groups of 
up to three animals, though fall concentrations may include 
up to 50 animals. 

Bowhead whales sometimes breach, throwing most of the 
body clear of the surface and reentering with a resounding 
splash. 



May Be Confused With 

Bowhead whales are the only species of large whales 
found routinely in Arctic waters. Though other species, 
including some of the balaenopterid whales and the right 
whale, may venture north as far as the southern limits of the 
bowhead whale and beyond, they usually do so in the spring 



and summer, at a time when the bowhead whales are farther 
to the north. Evenif they are encountered together, bowhead 
whales can be distinguished from all the balaenopterid whales 
by the absence of a dorsal fin. Bowhead whales have neither a 
fin nor the slightest trace of a dorsal fin or ridge, while all the 
balaenopterids have a dorsal fin; and their back is extremely 
smooth, like that of the right whale. The bowhead and right 
whales may be readily distinguished from one another by the 
characters listed below for stranded specimens. 



Distribution 

Though bowhead whales in the western North Atlantic 
were once distributed from Arctic waters, from the edge of 
the ice, south as far as the Strait of Belle Isle and the St. 
Lawrence River in such abundance that they were once 
referred to simply as "the whale," overwhaling through the 
19th century until as recently as 1911 has severely reduced 
their numbers and restricted their modern range. Today in 
addition to the more abundant populations of the Bering, 
Beaufort, and Chukchi seas and the Sea of Okhotsk, there are 
populations off eastern Greenland and in Davis Straits, Baffin 
Bay, James Bay, and the adjacent waters. Within these 
ranges, bowhead whales move southward in front of the 
advancing ice floes and may be expected near the southern 
limits of their range from September or October through the 
early spring months. Populations in the western North 
Atlantic appear to be increasing slowly. 



Stranded Specimens 

In addition to the fact that their ranges may overlap only 
slightly if at all, bowhead whales may be distinguished from 
the other right whales of the western North Atlantic by 
differences in 1) primary distribution, 2) coloration, 3) 
lengths of the longest baleen plates, and 4) presence of 
callosities. 




Bowhead Whale 



Right Whale 



DISTRIBUTION 



Arctic distribution south to 
Davis Straits only during 
winter. 



Texas, southwest Florida 
north to Iceland, reaching 
northern limits only during 
spring and summer. 



COLORATION 



Black with white "vest" on 
front part of lower jaw, 
sometimes containing a 
string of black spots; upper 
jaw lacks the "rock garden." 



Sometimes black often 
brown or mottled with re- 
gions of white on chin and 
belly; patches of yellowish to 
pink callosities and lice 
encrusting the snout in what 
has been called a "rock 
garden." 



49 



BALEEN PLATES 



325-360 per side; plates to 14 
inches (35.6 cm) at base and 
longest plates up to 14 feet 
(4.3 m) long. Dark gray or 
black with gray fringes; 
anterior margin of some 
plates whitish, showing 
green iridescence in sun- 
light. 



250-390 per side; plates 12 
inches (30.5 cm) at base and 
up to 7.2 feet (2.2 m) long. 
Dirty gray with black frin- 
ges; some anterior plates 
partly or completely white. 



BONNET AND OTHER CALLOSITIES 
Not present. Present. 



Figure 43. — Swimming adult bowhead whales, particularly males, often 
show two characteristic humps or curves to the back — one on the head, 
ending just behind the blowholes, and a larger curve from just behind the 
blowholes to near the flukes; the second is accentuated when the animal 
humps up to begin a dive. {Photo by J. Lentfer.) 




"■%!• 



' ^^^tf^'^^^I^B 



•Jr. 






Figure 44. - 




-Bowbead whales have no dorsal fin. The back is smooth and black, though often irregularly spaced 
white or grayish scars of unknown origin appear. (Photoi by J. Lentfer.) 



50 



IT 



^1. 




Figure 45.-1116 unusually shaped head and the broad lower jaw, colored by a broad white vest, are evident in the swimming bowhead whale (left) and in 
both members of the copulating pair (right). Also evident on the animal to the far left is the "string of black beads" which is sometimes found in the white 
region. {Pkotot by J. Lentfer.) 




Figure 46. — A harpooned bowhead whale (this one from the Alaskan population). Note the high arching upper jaw of the species. Bowhead whales have 
up to at least 360 plates per side, far more than the black right whale. The longest plates, located near the middle of each jaw, are reported to reach 
12 feet (3.7 ml, or more, in length. {Photo by D. R. Patten.) 



51 



RIGHT WHALE (B) 

Eubalaena glacialis (Borowski 1781) 



Other Common Names 



Black right whale. Biscayan right whale, Biscay whale, 
Nordcaper right whale. 

Description 

These right whales reach a length of about 53 feet (16.2 
m). 

The body is rotund and completely lacking a dorsal fin or a 
dorsal ridge. The upper jaw is long, narrow, and highly 
arched. The lips are similarly highly arched. The top of the 
head has a series of bumps or callosities, the largest one of 
which is known as the "bonnet," on the upper surface in front 
of the blowholes. Yellowish-brown lice and, less frequently, 
barnacles grow on the callosities. The color and extent of the 
callosities varies from one individual to the next. 

The two blowholes are widely separated, resulting in the 
projection of the blow upward as two distinct spouts. The 
body is dark on the back, sometimes black, more often brown 
or mottled, usually has a region of white on the chin and belly, 
and sometimes has numerous small grayish-white scars of 
unknown origin. The baleen plates are up to 7.2 feet (2.2 m) 
long, very narrow, and variable in color from dark brownish 
through dark gray to black in color. When the animals swim, 
mouth agape near the surface, the baleen sometimes 
appears pale yellowish gray in color. 

Natural History Notes 

Right whales are usually not wary of boats and may often 
be approached very closely. 

Like sperm and humpback whales, they usually throw 
their flukes high into the air when beginning a long dive. 

Right whales feed primarily on copepods. 

Historically, this whale was nearly exterminated by 
hunters, who took advantage of its slow speed and who knew 
that its carcass floats, to harvest these animals for their great 
yield of whalebone and oil. It was these characteristics which 
prompted whalers to dub these animals the "right" whales to 
kill (as opposed to the ones that were too fast to catch and 
sank when killed). 

May Be Confused With 

The distinct blow of the right whales and their smooth 



dark back, devoid of any traces of a dorsal fin. m.ake it 
unlikely that the species will be confused with any other large 
whales except, perhaps, the bowhead whale. In the event 
that the expansion of their ranges again causes these two 
species to overlap in distribution, they can be distinguished 
from one another by the characteristics discussed on p. 49. 
If only the flukes are seen as the animal begins a dive, 
right and bowhead whales may be distinguished from the 
other two species of large whales exhibiting this behavior, 
the sperm and the humpback, in this way: the flukes of right 
and bowhead whales are broad, pointed on the tips, greatly 
concave towards a deep fluke notch, and dark below: 
those of the sperm whale are more nearly triangular, while 
those of the humpback whale have a jagged irregular or 
rippled rear margin and are sometimes variously white 
below. 

Distribution 

Like its more northern relative, the bowhead whale, the 
right whale was once the object of a widespread and 
extensive whale fishery, which reduced the species to 
critically low numbers. 

Though the former range of right whales is not clearly 
known, the species is thought to have been abundant from the 
Davis Straits south at least to the Carolinas and Bermuda and 
to have occurred in winter to Florida and perhaps into the 
Gulf of Mexico. 

Currently, right whales are known from Iceland south to 
Florida. Animals move north along the eastern Florida coast 
between early January and late March. During this time the 
species has also been observed in the Gulf of Mexico off 
southwestern Florida and Texas. Right whales pass the coast 
of New England in fair numbers in spring and continue as far 
north as at least Nova Scotia. Right whales are also found off 
Iceland, though the migration routes to and from Iceland 
waters are not known. The recent apparent increases in 
numbers at the northern and southern coastal approaches in 
New England and Florida, respectively, lend credibility to 
the hopeful contention that the species will again recolonize 
its historical range. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded right whales can be easily identified by all the 
characters discussed on p. 49 and summarized in Table 2. 



52 



Figure 47. — The V-shaped blow characteristic 
of right whaleB. Note the two distinct spouts, 
bushv in appearance. (Photo off Cape Cod by 

W. A. Watkins.) 






-^T"^ 



Figure 48. -A right whale off the northeastern Florida coast. Note the robust body, the smooth back, completely lacking a dorsal fin, and 
the narrow rostrum, bearing the characteristic yellowish callosities. Right whales, primarily mothers with calves, show up on the Florida 
coast in the early spring on their slow annual migration to the north. {Photo by N. Fain, courtesy of Marineland of Florida.) 



53 




..:,:%Mmtim^iW 



o- *; .o ■ 

^ s <« 

— a o o 

s o> ** ^ 






■Sis 



■5 q S-& 

t; .s o .2f 

o S o •- 



S :5 T5 "S 
■^ * « |5 



1 



* ^ ^ a 

Q. a > a* 

3 ;^ a. ^ 



I 

^ - i -r' 
"f ■= 5 J 



8 6 
8 2 





54 



a 



f 





b - 




-- c - 




^r^-w 






,'te--:^3te:: 



'—^:::S&^ 




^ ' ",-- ,.^. ifm-<^ ""T^" 



e - 



-,^-«C3^ 



W^ M^ 



Figure 50. — Right whales frequently throw their tail flukes high into the 
air and then slip nearly vertically beneath the surface. Note that the rear 
margin of the flukes of this species, unlike that of the humpback whale, is 
smooth, broad, and concaved distinctly towards a deep fluke 
notch. {Photos from the northern North Atlantic by K. C. Balcomb [a-g] 
and off northeastern Florida by N. Fain, courtesy of Marineland of 
Florida [h]. ) 



55 




Figure 51. — A stranded right whale at Narragensett Bay, R.I. Note the narrow, highly arched lower jaw, the 
extremely long, narrow baleen plates, reaching lengths of 6.5 feet (2.0 m), or more; and the bonnet (the 
protuberance near the tip of the upper jaw). (Photo from U.S. National Museum, courtesy of J. G. Mead.) 




Figure 52. - A ventral view of a harpooned female right whale at Newfoundland. Note that this species, like the bowhead, lacks the series of ventral grooves 
which characterize all other baleen whales of the western North Atlantic. Note also the absence of the vest of white on the chin, a feature which is- 
characteristic of the bowhead whale. Some right whales, however, do have extensive regions of white on the ventral surface, including the chin. [Photo 
from U.S. National Museum, courtesy of J. G. Mead.) 



56 



SPERM WHALE (T) 

PhysetercatodonLinnaeus 1758 



Other Common Names 

Cachalot, Sea Wap (St. Vincent). 

Description 

Male sperm whales have been reported to reach a length 
of 69 feet (20.9 m), though today individuals larger than 50 
feet (15.2 m) are rare. Females are much smaller, rarely 
exceeding 38 feet (11.6 m). 

A sperm whale is among the easiest of whales to identify 
at sea even when comparatively little of the animal is visible. 
It has a huge head, which comprises from a fourth to a third of 
the animal's total length. (The proportion is considerably 
higher for males than for females.) The blunted "squarish" 
snout, which may project up to 5 feet (1.5 m) beyond the tip of 
the lower jaw, houses a large reservoir containing a high- 
quality oil called spermaceti. 

The single blowhole is located well to the left of the 
midline and far forward on the head. As a consequence the 
small bushy blow, usually less than 8 feet (2.4 m), emerges 
forward at a sharp angle from the head and towards the left. 
Under good wind conditions this feature alone may permit 
positive identification of sperm whales even at considerable 
distances. 

Sperm whales have a distinct dorsal hump, usually 
rounded in its appearance about two-thirds of the way back 
from the tip of the snout. Immediately behind the hump is a 
series of knuckles or crenulations along the midline. This 
hump and the crenulations are clearly visible when the 
animals arch the tail before beginning a dive. There is a 
ventral keel, which may also be visible as animals "sound" 
(dive). The flukes of sperm whales are broad and triangular in 
shape, are not concaved, but are deeply notched on the rear 
margin. 

Sperm whales usually are dark brownish gray in color. 
The body has a "corrugated" or "shriveled" appearance. The 
belly and the front of the head may be grayish to off-white. 
The skin around the mouth, particularly near the corners, is 
white. The undersides of the flukes and flippers vary in color 
through numerous shades of browns and brownish grays. 

Natural History Notes 

Sperm whales may dive to depths in excess of 3,270 feet 
(996.7 m) for periods of an hour or more. As do most whales 
upon surfacing from a deep dive, sperm whales emit a single 
explosive blow and then, depending on the length of the dive, 
may remain on the surface for over 10 min and blow more than 
50 times before beginning the next dive. Shorter periods on 
the surface and fewer blows are more common. Females may 
dive and remain on the surface for shorter periods of time 
than males. When beginning a deep dive, sperm whales 
throw their broad triangular flukes, dark on the undersides, 
high into the air. 

Sperm whales may be found singly or in groups of up to 35 
or 40 individuals. Older males are usually solitary except 
during the breeding season. During the remainder of the year 



large groups may be bachelor bulls (sexually inactive males) 
or nursery schools containing females and juveniles of both 
sexes. Sperm whales are seldom found in less than 600 feet 
(182.9 m) of water. 

Sperm whales feed primarily on squid but may occasion- 
ally also take octopuses and a variety of fishes. 

May Be Confused With 

Because of their distinctive head shape and blow, sperm 
whales are unlikely to be confused with any other species 
when they can be closely examined. If only the back and tail 
flukes are seen, however, sperm whales may somewhat 
resemble humpback whales. Both species arch the back when 
beginning a dive, raising the fin or hump, and both throw the 
tail flukes. The most distinctive differences between the two 
species are tabularized on p. 40. 

At sea the head of a sperm whale may also somewhat 
resemble that of an adult male northern bottlenosed whale, 
but this latter species is lighter brown in color, has a distinct 
beak and a prominent dorsal fin, and is rarely found south of 
lat. 42°N. In addition, the blowhole of the northern 
bottlenosed whale is located well back on the head and 
not— as in the sperm whale— on the front. 



Distribution 

Sperm whales are widely distributed in oceanic areas of 
the western North Alantic. They may be encountered from 
Venezuela north at least as far as the Davis Straits, though 
they apparently avoid the polar ice fields. Distribution and 
migrations vary between males and females. Males range 
farther to the north, while females and immature males 
remain between lat. 30° and 50°N. Both groups shift 
northward during spring and summer and return to southern 
portions of their range in the fall. Adult males arrive off the 
New England coast in August. Those reaching the 
Newfoundland and Labrador coasts arrive from the deep sea, 
perhaps following the slope contours, in August and 
September. Males are abundant as far north as southeast 
Greenland and Iceland in summer. Some animals remain as 
late as November, but the majority migrate south to tem- 
perate or tropical waters in the early fall. 

Historically the primary grounds in the western North 
Atlantic were those in all the following areas: the Grand 
Banks just southeast of the southern Grand Banks from lat. 
30° to 40°N and long. 35° to 55°W, off the Carolinas, around 
the Bahamas, around many of the West Indies, and in the 
southwestern Caribbean. 



Stranded Specimens 

Stranded sperm whales should be easy to identify. The 
very narrow underslung jaw contains from 18 to 25 functional 
teeth, which fit into sockets in the upper jaw. The huge, 
distinctly box-shaped head and the position of the single 
blowhole to the left front of the head are unmistakable clues. 



57 




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58 




Figure 54 -A side view of a sperm whale in the West Indies, showing the distinctive blow. Note that the spout projects obUquely forward from 
the blowhole, which is displaced to the left front of the head. {Photo by H. E. Wmn.) 




'!* 




Figure 55. -Note the distinctive body shape and the position of the 
blowhole of these swimming sperm whales, and, in the animal on the left, 
the broad taU flukes. yPkotoe from the North Atlantic by S. Green \left\ 
and from the North Pacific by S. Ohsumi [right]. ) 



59 




^ 




Figure 56. — A sperm whale mother and calf off Baja California, showing the distinct dorsal hump and the extremely long head. In the bottom photo, from 
the West Indies, note the dorsal hump and the crenulations of bumps which follow it. Both the hump and the crenulations may be visible as the animal 
arches its tail to begin a deep dive. Note also the wrinkled appearance of the body. (Photo by K. C. Balcomb [top] and H. E. Winn [bottom].) 




Figure 57. — Sperm whales often show their broad tail flukes as they begin long dives, which may last over an hour and take them to depths of several 
thousand feet or more. Note the smooth rear margin and the nearly triangular shape of the flukes. (Photo from off Baja Caltfomia by K. C. Balcomb.) 



60 





Fi^re 58. — A stranded infant male sperm whale at Melbourne Beach, Fla. (top) and a male adult sperm whale on the deck of a whaling ship in the Pacific 
(bottom). Note the bul^ng forehead, the narrow, underslung lower jaw, the white coloration around the mouth, particularly at the corners, and the 
wrinkled appearance of the body. In the bottom photo note also the whitish region on the belly. {Photos by P. Wvnfield \top\ and Japanese Whalet 
Research Institute, courtesy of H. Omura [bottom].) 



61 



Figure 59. —The narrow lower jaw of a sperm whale contains from 18 
to 25 large functional teeth, which fit neatly into sockets in the upper 
jaw. Occasionally, the upper jaw also contains some teeth. {Photo 
from the North Pacific by Japanese Whales Research Institute, 
courtesy of H. Omura. ) 





Figure 60. — The throat and lower jaw of a sperm whale on the deck of an 
eastern Canadian whaling station, showing the numerous short throat 
grooves, which are most clearly evident on adult animals. (Photo by J. 
G. Mead.) 



Figure 61 . — Detail of the broad, paddle-shaped flipper of a sperm whale 
from the North Pacific. {Photo from Japanese Whales Research In- 
stitute, courtesy of H. Omura. ) |J| 




62 



MINKE WHALE (B) 

Balaenopteraacutorostratahacepede 1804 



Other Common Names 

Little piked whale, lesser rorqual, little finner, sharp- 
headed firmer, grampus (Newfoundland), gibord (Quebec). 

Description 

Minke whales are the smallest baleen whale species in the 
northern hemisphere, reaching maximum lengths of just over 
30 feet (9.1 m). One of the most distinctive features of this 
species is an extremely narrow, pointed, distinctly triangular 
rostrum with a single head ridge, similar to but much sharper 
than that of the fin whale (hence the common name 
"sharp-headed finner"). Minke whales have a tall, falcate 
dorsal fin located in the latter third of the back, in about the 
same position as that of the sei whale, which often becomes 
visible simultaneously with the low, usually inconspicuous 
blow. 

Minke whales are black to dark gray on the back and white 
on the belly and on the underside of the flippers. Portions of 
the underside of the flukes may be steel bluish gray. They 
have a diagonal band of white on each flipper, the extent and 
orientation of which varies individually. 

Like the fin whale, minke whales (at least from the Pacific) 
sometimes have a chevron on the back behind the head and 
often have two regions of lightish-gray coloration on each 
side— one just above and behind the flippers; another just in 
front of and below the dorsal fin. These patches may be quite 
conspicuous on some animals, indetectable on others. These 
markings may also be present on Atlantic specimens, though 
they have not yet been documented. The baleen, which may 
be visible from close range when the animal is feeding, is 
mostly yellowish white with fine white bristles. The posterior 
plates (up to half) may be brown to black. 



Natural History Notes 

Minke whales are frequently found as single animals, 
pairs, or trios, though they may congregate in areas of food 
concentration in the northern seas during the spring and 
summer. They are more likely to be seen up close than their 
larger cousins— the blue, fin, and sei whales— because they 
often closely approach boats, particularly stationary boats, as 
if curious about them. 

Minke whales may also approach very close to shore and 
often enter bays, inlets, and estuaries. 

Like fin whales, they often arch the tail stock high into the 
air when beginning a long dive. However, they do not raise 
the flukes above the surface when beginning a dive. 

Minke whales feed primarily on small shoal fish (herring, 
cod, pollack, and capelin). 

Minkes sometimes breach, leaping completely clear of the 
water and entering smoothly, head first, or with a substantial 
splash like humpback whales. 



May Be Confused With 

When they are seen at relatively close range, minke 
whales can be readily distinguished from the other rorquals 
that have relatively tall, falcate dorsal fins (fin, sei, and 
Bryde's whales) by their considerably smaller size and by 
their distinctive white band on each flipper. 

At a distance, however, positive identification may be 
difficult. Minke whales have a small, low, inconspicuous blow. 
Like sei whales, they frequently expose the dorsal fin 
simultaneously with the blow, but minke whales hump the 
tail stock much higher when beginning a long dive — more like 
fin whales. 



aiw^^«^> 




Figure62. — The minke whale, at a maximum length of just over 30 feet (9.1 m), the smallest baleen 
whale species of the western North Atlantic, is distributed in polar, temperate, and tropical waters. 
These animals usually have a low, inconspicuous blow and are sometimes curious enough about 
boats that they will alter their course to investigate them. Note the two areas of hght gray on the 
sides of the body, characteristic of at least Pacific minke whales. {Photo from off British Columbia, 
courtety of Nanaimo Free Press.) 



63 




Figure 63. — Three views of minke whales at sea. In all note the transverse 
band of white on the flippers and the sharply pointed head. Note the gray 
chevron visible on the back (top), the absence of a conspicuous blow and 
the appearance of the prominent dorsal fin on the surface while the 
blowholes are still exposed (middle), and the distinctive regions of light 
gray on the sides (bottom). [Photos from off San Diego, Calif, by G. E. 
Lmgle [top]; from the northern West Indies by H.E. Winn [midiUe\; and 
from the western Pacific by Japanese Whales Research Institute, courte- 
sy ofH. Omura [bottom].) 




64 



From a distance, minke whales might also be mistaken for 
northern bottlenosed whales (or any of several other beaked 
whales with a similar dorsal fin). They can be distinguished 
by the differences in head shape, body color and markings, 
and behavior, detailed on p. 67. 

Distribution 

Minke whales are distributed in the polar, temperate, and 
tropical waters of the western North Atlantic. They are 
found from the pack ice south to at least Anguilla, Lesser 
Antilles, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico, though they appear 
to be most abundant in temperate waters north of the lati- 
tude of New York and are infrequently reported from tropi- 
cal waters. At least some of the population migrates to the 
northern portions of their range in spring and back south in 
autumn. They often approach close to shore and enter river 
mouths, inlets, and estuaries. 

Minke whales arrive along the Canadian coast in May or 
June. Some migrate as far north as Hudson Strait, where 
they remain until the freeze in October, November, or 
December. By December the majority of the population has 



begun to move to the south, although some animals remain 
behind so long as to become entrapped in the ice and die. 
Spring and summer concentrations along the Canadian coast 
correspond to concentrations of capelin, cod, and herring. 
Southern concentrations, also corresponding with concentra- 
tions of herring, extend farther offshore at least to the edges 
of the Grand Bank. Minke whales also summer off the south 
coast of western Greenland, which they probably reach from 
waters southwest of Iceland. Minke whales also occur in 
deep pelagic waters. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded minke whales can be most readily identified by: 
1) their small size (to just over 30 feet [9.1 m]); 2) the 
transverse white bands on the flippers; 3) the yellowish- 
white baleen plates (up to half the posteriormost plates may 
be brown or black), 300-325 per side in number and having 
fine white bristles (the plates are up to 4.75 inches [12 cm) 
wide at the base and up to 8 inches [20.3 cm] long); and 4) by 
the 50-70 thin ventral grooves, ending well before the navel, 
often just even with the flippers. 




Figure 64. — Minke whales are also known as sharp-headed tinners. On this animal from the North Pacific, 
note the sharply pointed head and the single central head ridge. (Photo by Japanese Whales Research 
Institute, courtesy of H. Omura. ) 



65 




sJUCCSn 



Figure 65. - A minke whale stranded at Santa Barbara, Calil. Note the dark back, the white-banded flipper, and the 60-70 fine ventral grooves extending to 
just behind the flippers. The short, white baleen plates are visible in the open mouth. (Photo by S. Anderton.) 




Figure 66. -Minke whales have from 300 to 325 short, yellowish-white baleen plates (up to half the 
anterionnost plates may be brown or black) with fine white bristles on each upper jaw. \Photo from 
Santa Barbara, Caltf. by S. Anderson.) 



66 



Other Common Names 

None known. 

Description 

Northern bottlenosed whales reach a length of 32 feet (9.8 
m) and are robust in form. They are characterized by a 
bulbous forehead, which is more pronounced on larger 
animals and most distinctive in adult males, and by the 
dolphinlike beak displayed in animals of all sizes and ages, 
which is sometimes visible as the animals surface steeply to 
breathe. 

The blowhole is located in an indented area behind the 
bulbous forehead, and the blow emanating from it projects 
upward or slightly forward to a height of up to 6 feet (1.8 m), 
is bushy and is visible from a considerable distance under low 
wind conditions. The dorsal fin, located two-thirds of the way 
back on the back, reaches at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) in height 
and is distinctly falcate. The dorsal fin may be visible from a 
distance of several hundred meters. 

Northern bottlenosed whales are usually brownish in 
color, though the markings change with age. Smaller animals 
are a uniform chocolate brown. Larger animals retain the 
chocolate brown color on the back but are often lighter on the 
sides and the belly and often have irregular patches or 
blotches of grayish-white coloration on the back and sides. 
Extremely large animals, presumably older males, often 
have a white head. The flippers and the undersides of the 
flukes are uniformly brown in color. 



Natural History Notes 

Northern bottlenosed whales often form tightly packed 
groups of up to 10 or more animals. This species holds the 
anecdotal record for the longest dives, having been reported 
by early whalers to remain submerged over 2 h. They are 
probably deep divers, feeding primarily on squid (though 
they may take fishes as well), and they rarely go in water 
shallower than 100 fathoms (183 m). 

After a long dive, northern bottlenosed whales will 
sometimes remain on the surface for 10 min or more, blowing 
at regular intervals before making another dive. After the 
last blow of a series or when the animals are startled by a 
boat, they may show the tail flukes as they begin to dive. The 
flukes are not notched on the rear margin. 

Northern bottlenosed whales have been observed to show 
curiosity about boats, coming to them from a considerable 
distance. They have also been observed to "lobtail," raising 
the tail flukes above the water and slapping them against the 
surface, and to jump clear of the water. 

In the late 19th century, after stocks of bowhead whales 
were severely reduced by overwhaling, northern bottlenosed 
whales became a prime target of arctic whalers. They were 
sought because in addition to whale oil produced from the 
body blubber, the forehead of the species yielded quantities 
of spermaceti like that obtained from sperm whales. 



NORTHERN BOTTLENOSED WHALE (T) 

Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster 1770) 

May Be Confused With 



Northern bottlenosed whales have a northerly and 
deep-water distribution. Within their range, they may be 
confused at a distance with minke whales, with sperm 
whales, or perhaps with North Sea beaked whales. 

Minke whales (p. 63) have a falcate dorsal fin located in 
approximately the same position as that of the northern 
bottlenosed whale. However, minke whales have a flathead in 
front of their two blow holes and are black to dark gray 
on the back. 

Sperm whales (p. 57) have a squarish head that may 
somewhat resemble that of an adult male northern 
bottlenosed whale. However, there are numerous character- 
istics which will permit these species to be distinguished even 
from a distance: 



Northern 
Bottlenosed Whale 



Sperm Whale 



BLOW 



Low and bushy; projects 
upward from indentation on 
top of head. 



Low and bushy; projects 
obliquely forward from left 
side of head; usually less 
than 8 feet (2.4 m). 



Lighter brown; adults splot- 
ched with grayish white; 
body smooth. 



COLORATION 

Brownish gray; 
pears wrinkled. 



body ap- 



FLUKES 



Rarely notched; seldom rais- 
ed on long dive. 



Notched; raised on long dive. 



HEAD 



Tapering in younger ani- 
mals; bulbous in adults; 
white in older animals; beak- 
ed. 



Squarish, long, al; 
beakless. 



black; 



A further aid to distinguishing northern bottle- 
nosed and sperm whales at sea is the fact that the 
sperm whales that are found in areas where northern 
bottlenosed whales are encountered are usually older, 
larger males from 40 to 60 feet (12.2 to 18.3 m) long. 
Northern bottlenosed whales do not exceed 32 
feet (9.8 m). 

Northern bottlenosed whales may also be confused with 
the poorly known North Sea beaked whale (p. 82). When 
they can be examined at close range, however, northern 
bottlenosed whales should be distinguishable on the basis of 
the distinctly bulbous forehead. 

Distribution 

In the western North Atlantic, northern bottlenosed 
whales are restricted to Arctic and north temperate waters, 



67 




Figure 67. —Northern bottlenosed whales at sea off Nova Scotia. Note the prominent dorsal fin and the blotches of grayish-white coloration on the body. 
Northern bottlenosed whales reach 32 feet (9.8 m) in overall length. {Photo by H. E. Winn.) 




Figure 68. -Views of the heads of male northern bottlenosed whales off Nova Scotia. Note the distinctive beak (right) and the bulbous forehead, features 
which develop with age and are most pronounced in adult males. In the animal on the left, note also the low bushy blow emanating from the indented area on 
the top of the head. (Photos by H. E. Winn.) 



68 



where they most commonly occur in offshore areas. They 
have been reported from Davis Straits and the entrance to 
Hudson Strait, the Gully southeast of Sable Island, and as far 
south as Narragansett Bay, R.I. 

In the spring and summer they concentrate near the 
northern limits of their range, occasionally visiting deep 
channels of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and eastern 
Newfoundland in summer. During these seasons they may 
extend to the edge of the pack ice. 

In the fall and winter the bulk of the population migrates 
.southward. Many probably winter in the Labrador Sea while 
others move farther southward and farther offshore. 

Stranded Specimens 

Like the beaked whales discussed on p. 70 through 83, 
the northern bottlenosed whales have no notch in the tail 
flukes, have two throat grooves forming a V-shape on the 
chin, and have only two teeth in the lower jaw, with those 
teeth emerged from the gums only in adult males. These 
teeth may have sometimes fallen out of older males, but the 
tooth sockets should still be visible in the gums. 



Figure 69. -Northern bottlenosed whales occasionally raise their tafl f*° " 
nukes when beginning a dive. At close range, these flukes can oKen be 
seen to lack a distinctive notch on the rear margin . {Photo from off Nova 
Scotia by J. Ham. ) 



NOTE: Some specimens— both male and female— will be 
found to have a series of vestigial teeth the size of toothpicks 
in the upper and/or lower jaws. Similar vestigial teeth, .5-40 
in number, sometimes occur in goosebeaked whales (p. 70). 
Further when they are prepared for museum collections, the 
lower jaws of adult northern bottlenosed whales may be 
found to contain a second pair of teeth just behind the first. 

Northern bottlenosed whales may be distinguished from 
the remainder of the beaked whale family, however, by the 
extremely robust body, by the bulbous forehead, which is 
more extensively developed in larger animals, particularly 
males, and by the pronounced dolphinlike beak. 





Figure 70.- A stranded northern bottlenosed whale from Holland. Note the bulbous forehead, the long dolphinlike beak and the frequent absences of . 
notch in the rear margin of the tail flukes. (Photo by J. P Strijbos. courtesy of Rijks Musum van Natuurlyke Hutone te Leuien. ) 



69 



GOOSEBEAKED WHALE (T) 

Ziphius cavirostris G. Cuvier 1823 



Other Common Names 

Ziphius, Cuvier's beaked whale, grampus (St. Vincent) 
(see also p. 96). 



Description 

Goosebeaked whales reach a length of 23 feet (7 m). 
Females are slightly larger than males of the same age. 
Calves are probably less than about 6 feet (1.8 m) at birth. 
The head is small relative to the body length and, when 
viewed laterally, is slightly concaved or scooped on the upper 
margin. The cleft of the mouth is small, smaller than in any 
other species of beaked whales. The beak is indistinct in 
larger individuals. There is a distinct indentation on the back 
behind the head. Two teeth are found at the tip of the lower 
jaw of adult males only. 

The dorsal fin is relatively tall and distinct, to at least 15 
inches (38.1 cm), smoothly falcate, and located well behind 
the midpoint of the back. The blowhole is located far forward 
on the top of the head. The blow, which may project slightly 
forward and slightly off to the left, is usually low and 
inconspicuous. Though the first blow after a long dive may be 
more distinct, even it is rarely visible even under good wind 
conditions for more than a few hundred yards. 

Descriptionsof the color pattern vary. Individuals may be 
dark rust brown, slate gray, or fawn colored on the back and 
generally lighter on the belly. Some appear dark in both 
regions, still others — particularly youngsters— appear light- 
er gray or tan on the belly. The body is frequently covered 
with white or cream-colored blotches (particularly on the 
belly). The tail flukes are dark on the bottom. The head is 
frequently paler in color. Old males have a distinct white head 
and are frequently extensively scarred. 



Natural History Notes 

Goosebeaked whales frequently occur in groups of from 10 
to as many as 25 individuals. They have been reported to 
jump clear of the water. They are presumably deep divers 
and are known to stay down for more than 30 min. When they 
begin a deep dive, they often raise their tail flukes above the 



surface and dive nearly vertically. Goosebeaked whales feed 
primarily on squid. 

May Be Confused With 

So lit tie is known of the external appearance and behavior 
of the living beaked whales at sea that all the species may 
easily be confused. 

Goosebeaked whales are larger than all other beaked 
whale species with the exception of the northern bottlenosed 
whale. Upon close examination they may be distinguished 
from the northern bottlenosed whale by the lighter coloration 
of the head, reaching an extreme in the white head of adult 
males. (See p. 67 and Fig. 75.) 

Distribution 

As with other species of beaked whales seldom 
encountered or at least seldom positively identified at sea, 
the distribution of goosebeaked whales is poorly known and 
must be constructed from records of stranded specimens. 
Such records, often involving sick individuals that may have 
washed ashore from considerable distances, may give an 
inaccurate picture of normal ranges. 

In general, stranding reports suggest that goosebeaked 
whales are sparsely but widely distributed in nonpolar 
latitudes. They appear to be primarily tropical in 
distribution, though they venture into temperate areas in 
summer. They have been reported from Massachusetts and 
Rhode Island south to Florida and thence to the islands of the 
West Indies. They are frequently stranded along the Florida 
coast and are not an uncommon species in the extant whale 
fishery of the Antillean Islands. The fact that goosebeaked 
whales strand more frequently than other beaked whales 
may reflect either a greater abundance or a greater tendency 
to approach close to shore. 

They are probably primarily an offshore species. 

Stranded Specimens 

To be positively identified, stranded goosebeaked whales 
in an advanced state of decomposition may require museum 
preparation and examination of the skull and teeth. Fresh 
specimens may be tentatively identified by the characters 
illustrated in the figures. 



70 




'*^^^^'v^^^^^^^w*«> 




^sissm^'r^nm 






..'lito:. 




Figure 71 . — Goosebeaked whales have been rarely seen at sea. In these photos from the eastern tropical Pacific, note the white head of the animal on the 
left. Goosebeaked whales are wary of boats and may dive for 30 min or more. When they surface, their blow, usually very indistinct, may project forward 
and slightly to the left. {Photos by K. D. Sextan, courtesy of Natumal Marine Fisheries Service.) 



Figure 72. — A beaked whale, probably a goosebeaked whale, jumps ^, 
beside a research ship off northwestern Baja California. Note the position ^nL 
and shape of the dorsal fin and the depression just behind the 
head. {Photo by S. Leatherwood.) 







^'*'***^*''*Su^<inp^ 




71 




Figure 73. — A goosebeaked whale stranded in Delaware. Goosebeaked whales are primarily tropical in distribution, though they apparently venture into 
temperate areas in summer. Note the prominent dorsal fin, the lighter coloration of the head, and the depression just behind the head. {Photo from U.S. 
National Museum^ courtesy of J. G. Mead. ) 



Figure 74. — A closeup of the dorsal surface of the 
flukes of a juvenile goosebeaked whale stranded in the 
northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Like other members of 
the beaked whale family, goosebeaked whales lack a 
distinctive notch in the rear margin of the flukes. 
{Photo courtesy of Florida's Gulfarium.) 




72 






Figure 75. — Stranded goosebeaked whales, an adult male from northern California (top) and an 
immature female from the northeastern Gulf of Mexico (bottom). Note the brownish color of the 
back, marked in the adult animal by blotches of lighter gray and numerous scratch marks, 
presumably tooth rakes. Note also the mouth cleft, shorter in this species than in any other beaked 
whale species, and the slightly concave appearance to the upper margin of the head. The beak is 
usually less developed in large animals. The inset photo shows a ventral view of the tip of the lower 
jaw of an adult male from the east coast of Florida. The two teeth of the species are emerged above 
the gum only in adult males. (Photos by W. J. Houck [top\, Florida's Gulfarium [middle], and W. 
A. Huck, courtesy of Marineland of Florida |»ue(|. ) 



73 



OTHER BEAKED WHALES (T) 

Mesoplodon spp. 



Other Common Names 

Grampus (St. Vincent) (see also p. 96). 

Description 

In addition to the northern bottlenosed whale (p. 67) and 
the goosebeaked whale (p. 70), four other species of beaked 
whales have been reported from the western North Atlantic. 
All four species are known primarily from stranded 
specimens and have been rarely encountered at sea. 
Therefore statements of range are usually limited to 
inferences from locations of strandings, and information on 
appearance and habits of the species in the wild is almost 
totally lacking. 

The infrequent encounters with beaked whales at sea may 
result from such factors as 1) a low inconspicuous blow, 2) 
avoidance of ships, and/or 3) distribution in small groups in 
offshore areas well outside the normal boating lanes. 

The following descriptions will aid primarily in identifying 



stranded specimens. Though subtle differences in ranges, 
color patterns, and dorsal fin shapes and positions may be 
helpful in narrowing the choices of living animals, the species 
will continue to be extremely difficult to distinguish from one 
another in the brief encounters typical at sea until additional 
data are collected. 

The beaked whales have the following characteristics in 
common: 1) two small creases forming a V-shape on the throat 
2) the absence of a conspicuous notch on the rear margin of the 
tail flukes (some specimens have a slight indentation), and 31 
the absence of functional teeth in all except adult males. 
Adult males have a single pair of teeth in the lower jaw, the 
position and description of which help to identify the species. 
The teeth of females are not functional and only rarely 
emerge from the gums. Therefore, if a stranded animal is an 
adult male, its species can be determined by the position and 
description of the teeth. For example, in Mesoplodon mirus, 
the teeth are located near the tip of the lower jaw; in M. 
europaeus, they are located about a third of the way from the 
tip of the snout to the corner of the mouth; in M. bidens, they 




Figure 76. - An unidentified beaked whale from the mid-Pacific. Note the marks along the back, presumably tooth rakes, consisting of scratches that are 
paired and close together. A beaked whale in the western North Atlantic marked in this manner would be a northern bottlenosed whale (p. 671, a goose- 
beaked whale (p. 70), or a True's beaked whale (p. 77). These are the only three species in which the teeth are located close together near the tip of the 
lower jaw. {Photo by K. C. Balcomb.) 



74 



are nearly half way from the tip of the snout to corner of the 
mouth; and in M. derisirostris, they are located in large 
prominences near the back of the mouth. 

If the animal is a female or an immature male, however, 



museum preparation and examination might be required 
before the species can be positively determined. The 
following four sections summarize characters of western 
North Atlantic beaked whales. 




<<«. 




^^^^;:>K 









^^4^ 










Figure 77. — Various views of a herd of five or six unidentified beaked whales, possibly dense-beaked whales, 12 miles off Pokai Bay, Oahu, flawaii. The 
animals were very shy and had low indistinct blows, making them difficult to spot and track. As they surfaced, individuals frequently bucked their heads 
and slapped the chin against the surface, rather than rolling. They did not raise their tail flukes when beginning their long dives. {Photos by E. 
ShaUenberger, Sea Life Park, Hawaii.) 

{Because so little is known of beaked whales every encounter should be recorded in as much detail as possible. | 



75 




Figure 78. — Adult male beaked whales, 
showing the body profile and the relative 
positions of the teeth. Remember that the 
teeth of females and immature males are 
concealed beneath the gums. {Drawing by 
L. Wmn.) 




^^ densirostns 



76 



TRUES BEAKED WHALE (T) 

Mesoplodon mirus True 1913 



Other Common Names 

None known. 

Description 

True's beaked whales reach a length of at least 16 feet (4.9 
m) long. They are chunky in midbody and narrow rapidly 
towards the tail, closely resembling goosebeaked whales 
(p. 70). In overall body shape, the head is small with a slight 
indentation in the area of the blowhole, a slight bulge to the 
forehead, and a pronounced beak. The flippers are small 
(from one-fourteenth to one-tenth the body length). The 
dorsal fin is small, slightly falcate, located in the latter third 
of the back, and followed by a pronounced ridge on the tail 
stock. The flukes, which sometimes contain a very slight 
notch, are broad (to almost one- fifth the body length). 

True's beaked whales are dull black to dark gray on the 
back, lighter slate gray on the sides, and white on the belly. 
The body is frequently covered with light colored spots or 
splotches and bears numerous pairs of scratch marks, 
presumably tooth rakes (Fig. 76). 

The flippers are all black and are attached in the dark col- 
oration of the animal's side. The flukes are dark above and 
below. 



May Be Confused With 

True's beaked whales are most likely to be confused with 
goosebeaked whales (p. 70) but may also be confused with 
any of the other beaked whales species (p. 74 and Fig. 78). 

Distribution 

True's beaked whales appear to be primarily temperate in 
distribution. They have been reported from Cape Breton 
Island, Nova Scotia south as far as Flagler Beach in Florida. 
Northernmost records are for summer months. 

The range of True's beaked whales overlaps with that of 
the Antillean beaked whale but is more northerly. 

Stranded Specimens 

The teeth of adult male True's beaked whales may be 
visible near the tip of the lower jaw, a characteristic shared 
with the goosebeaked whale (p. 70) and the northern 
bottlenosed whale (p. 67). Both these other species reach 
substantially greater maximum lengths than True's beaked 
whales, however, and should be readily distinguishable by 
this and the number of other highly distinctive characteristics 
of each species. 

Females and subadult males may be confused with any of 
the beaked whales species (p. 74 and Fig. 78). 



'^^^^'''^^^?:::.^^M^:^;-^r':t-^ 





'»te^- 



Figure 79. -Two views of the body of a stranded True's beaked whale from 
northeastern Florida. This species reaches at least 16 feet (4.9 m) and closely 
resembles the goosebeaked whale in general body shape. It is distributed in 
temperate waters from Nova Scotia to Florida. (Photos courtesy of Marineland of 
FUyrida.) 



77 




Figure 80. —The head ot a True's beaked whale stranded in North Carolina. Note 
the small head, the pronounced beak, and the position of the blowhole in the 
indentation behind the forehead. The teeth, visible above the gums only in adult 
males, are in the position indicated by the arrow. The photo on the right shows 
the two V-shaped throat grooves characteristic of beaked whales. {Photos from 
U.S. National Museum, courtesy of J. G, Mead.) 






ANTILLEAN BEAKED WHALE (T) 

Mesoplodon europaeus (Gervais 1855) 
(equals M. gervaisi [DeslongchampsJ) 



Other Common Names 

Gulfstream beaked whale, Gervais' beaked whale. 

Description 

Antillean beaked whales reach a length of at least 22 feet 
(6.7 m). They are slender in form and appear somewhat 
laterally compressed (i.e., taller than they are wide). The 
head is extremely small and tapers rapidly to a narrow beak. 
The flippers are small (to about one-twelfth the body length) 
with their origin well down on the sides of the body. The 
dorsal fin is small, located behind the midpoint of the back, 
and variable in shape from falcate to triangular. The flukes 
are less than one- fifth the body length and are not notched. 

Antillean beaked whales are dark grayish black on the 
back and sides, slightly lighter on the abdomen. The flukes 
are dark gray above and below. 

Natural History Notes 

Antillean beaked whales are probably primarily oceanic in 
distribution and are known to feed on squid. 



May Be Confused With 

Antillean beaked whales may be confused with any of the 
other beaked whales though they are larger than all except 
the northern bottlenosed whale (p. 67) and the goosebeaked 
whale (p. 70). 



Distribution 

Antillean beaked whales have been reported stranded 
from the latitude of Long Island, N.Y. south to Florida, 
thence into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. 



Stranded Specimens 

The teeth of Antillean beaked whales are located at the 
suture of the mandible, about one-third of the way from 
the tip of the snout to the corner of the mouth (Fig. 
78). 



78 




Figure 81 . — Two views of an Antillean beaked whale stranded in New Jersey in 1899. Note the very small head, the prominent 
back-curved dorsal fin, and the slightly concave rear margin of the tail flukes, which lack a distinct notch. iPhotos by F. W. 
True, courtesy of U.S. National Museum-) 







Figure 82. —Two views of an Antillean beaked whale stranded in Jamaica. This 
species reached at least 22 feet (6.7 m) in length. Compared to the smaller True's 
beaked whale, Antillean beaked whales have a smaller head, a narrower beak, and a 
taller, narrower body. Furthermore, the teeth of this species are located about 
one-third of the way back from the tip of the snout to the comer of the 
mouth. [Photos by J. J. Rankin. ) 




79 



DENSE-BEAKED WHALE (T) 

Mesoplodon densirostris (Blainville in Desmarest 1817) 



Other Common Names 

None known. 

Description 

Dense-beaked whales reach alengthof at least 17 feet (5.2 
m). The body is distinctly spindle-shaped. The head, the 
contour of which is the most distinctive characteristic of this 
species, is marked by a prominent rise, located near the angle 
of the gape on each side. This rise, which bears the teeth, 
gives a peculiar high, arching contour to the mouth (p. 84), 
particularly in adult males. 

The flippers are small (one-eleventh to one-tenth the body 
length) and have their origin in the lighter color of the lower 
sides. The dorsal fin varies from small and triangular to 
nearly falcate and pointed on the tip. It is located behind the 
midpoint of the back. The flukes are from one-sixth to 
one-fifth the body length, are seldom notched, and 
occasionally even bulge slightly backwards near the center of 
the rear margin. 

Dense- beaked whales are black or charcoal gray on the 
back, slightly lighter on the abdomen. They are somewhat 
blotched with grayish white and are often extensively 
scratched or scarred. The flippers are lighter than the back. 
The flukes are dark above, light below. 



Natural History Notes 

From stomach contents of stranded animals dense- beaked 
whales are known to feed on squid. 

May Be Confused With 

Adult male dense-beaked whales can be separated from 
the other beaked whales by the high, arching contour to the 
corners of the mouth. If there is no adult male in the group, 
however, dense-beaked whales may be confused with any of 
the other beaked whales species. 

Distribution 

Dense beaked whales have been reported from Peggys 
Cove. Nova Scotia south to Florida. From all accounts, this 
species appears widely but sparsely distributed in warm 
temperate seas. 

Stranded Specimens 

Adults of this species should be distinguishable by the 
highly distinctive contour of the mouth. The teeth, located in 
the high rise of the mouth, are oriented slightly backwards. 





Figure 83. — A dense-beaked whale in the tank at New York Aquarium. Note the position of the prominent dorsal fin, just breaking the surface. The blow of 
beaked whales is usually small and inconspicuous and reportedly projects markedly forward from the head. {.Photo by J. G. Mead. ) 



80 




Figure 84. -Views of the heads of dense-beaked whales. Females 
Ibottom) and immature males have a slight curvature to the rear of the 
mouth. As they mature, males (middle and top) begin to display the two 
arching prominences near the corners of the mouth which give the 
characteristic contour to the mouth. The teeth are located in these 
prominences and are oriented slightly backwards. (Photos from 
nortkeattem Florida by W. A. Huck, courtety of Marineland of Florida 
[top and middle] and by J. G. Mead [bottom) 





81 




Figure 85. — A dense-beaked whale stranded in northeastern Florida. This species reaches about 17 teet (5.2 ml and is black or charcoal gray on 
the back, lighter gray on the sides, and frequently marked with grayish-white blotches and often extensively scarred. {Photo by W. A. Huck, 
courtesy of Marmelarui of Florida. ) 



NORTH SEA BEAKED WHALE (T) 

Mesoplodon bidens (Sowerby 1804) 



Other Common Names 

Sowerby's beaked whale. 

Description 

North Sea beaked whales reach a length of at least 16.5 
feet (5 m). The body is distinctly spindle-shaped, but 
apparently more robust near midbody than that of the 
dense beaked whale. The head is characterized by a 
pronounced bulge in front of the blowhole, a slightly concave 
forehead, and a moderate to long beak. The flippers are 
relatively long (one-eighth to one-ninth the body length). The 
dorsal fin is reportedly tall and variable in shape from 
triangular to slightly falcate and is located just behind the 
midpoint of the back. The flukes are not notched but are 
sometimes quite concave on the rear margin. 

Adult North Sea beaked whales are dark charcoal gray on 
the back with white spots overall. Young animals are also 
dark charcoal gray on the back but are lighter on the belly and 
are unspotted. The flukes of adults are dark above and below. 
Those of young are dark above, lighter below. 

Natural History Notes 

North Sea beaked whales are known to feed on squid. 



May Be Confused With 

North Sea beaked whales are the most northerly species 
of beaked whales. No other species is very likely to be 
encountered in the same area. 



Distribution 

North Sea beaked whales have been reported in the 
offshore waters from the latitude of New England north 
perhaps to the pack ice. Individuals are occasionally drawn to 
the coasts of Newfoundland in summer, presumably by 
concentrations of squid, a known food item. 



Stranded Specimens 

The teeth of North Sea beaked whales are located about 
midway between the tip of the snout and the corner of the 
mouth. Except for this characteristic and their northerly 
distribution, however, this species might easily be confused 
with any other of the beaked whales species. 



82 




k-»«;'sr^<>'5iaB3iSwa-"^W)«**" 



POSITION OF TEETH 
IN ADULT MALES 



Fieure 86.-North Sea beaked whales are the most northerly of the beaked whale species, extending north as far as the pack ice. 
T^reach at least 16.5 feet (5.0 m) and can be identified on the beach by the position of the teeth near the middle of the lower jaw. 



l.ittie is known of the species at sea. (Dra-wing by L. Winn. ) 




Figure 87.-A female North Sea beaked whale (16.5 feet [5.0 ml) stranded in Hjertuika in 1957. (PAoto courtesy of A. Jomgard.) 



83 



KILLER WHALE (T) 

Orcinus orca (Linnaeus 1758) 



Other Common Names 

Blackfish (see also pilot whales, p. 91 and 94), sword fish 
(Canada), grampus (see p. 96), whitefish (St. Vincent), 
Espladon (Quebec). 



Description 

Killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin 
family. Adult males reach a length of at least 30 feet (9.1 m) 
and are robust in form. One specimen of 31 feet (9.5 m) was 
recorded for the western North Pacific. Females are 
considerably smaller and less stocky. Newborn are 
approximately 7-8 feet (2.1-2.4 m) long. Killer whales have 
large paddle-shaped flippers. 

The most distinctive field character of the species is the 
dorsal fin. In adult males it is extremely erect and may be as 
much as 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. Though the fin of females and 
immature males is less than 3 feet (0.9 m) tall, it is 
nonetheless taller even in these animals than in any other 
cetacean species and is distinctly falcate and pointed on the 
lip. 

Killer whales are basically black with an extensive region 
of white on the undersides extending from the lower jaw to 
the anal region with a branch extending onto the flanks 
behind the dorsal fin. There is an oval white patch on the side 
of the head just above and behind the eye. In newborn and 
very young calves, these regions may be tan to lemon yellow 
in color. Most animals have a light-gray saddle marking just 
behind the dorsal fin. The undersides of the flukes are 
usually white. Both all-black and all-white animals have 
been reported. 



Natural History Notes 

Killer whales travel in groups of from a few to 25 or 30 
individuals, though herds of 150 have been reported. Males 
appear polygamous, and females and young may form groups 
separate from young bachelors and bulls. 

Killer whales are extremely fast swimmers, capable of 
reaching top speeds of 25 knots or more, and have been 
reported "porpoising" and breaching. Individuals and entire 
groups have also been reported "spy-hopping," or 
"pitchpoling," behaviors which consist of hanging vertically 
in the water with the head and much of the body (to just 
behind the flippers) exposed above the surface. 

Killer whales feed on squid, fishes, sea turtles, seabirds, 
and marine mammals. 

Controversy still continues over whether or not killer 
whales pose a threat to man. Documented attacks of killer 
whales on boats are rare and have usually been provoked 
(i.e., harpooning or attempts to capture). Only two uncertain 
instances of attacks in the wild have been reported, but all 
divers and mariners should be cautioned that this powerful 
animal is perfectly capable of doing tremendous damage and 
should not be provoked. 



May Be Confused With 

Because of its very distinctive dorsal fin, body shape, and 
coloration, the killer whale is not likely to be confused with 
any other whale when it can be examined at close range or 
when an adult male is present in the group. Pods of females 
and immature animals, however, may be confused with false 
killer whales or with grampus. The killer whales may be 
distinguished from false killers by the following differences: 



Killer Whale 



False Killer Whale 



Chunky. 



BODY SHAPE 

Slender. 

BODY COLOR 



Black with white on belly. All black with some gray on 
flank, and head. belly. 

DORSAL FIN 

Very tall and erect in adult Shorter, slender, strongly 
males; tall and slightly back falcate, 
curved in female. 

HEAD SHAPE 
Broad, rounded. Tapered, slender. 

FLIPPER SHAPE 



Paddle-shaped. 



Moderately long with char- 
acteristic hump near middle 
on forward margin. 



LENGTH 
To at least 30 feet (9.1 m). To at least 18 feet (5.5 m). 

Furthermore, false killer whales are the only "blackfish" 
which are known to ride the bow wave of a ship. 

Grampus have a tall dorsal fin (15 inches [38.1 cm]) which 
is very similar in appearance to that of adult female and 
juvenile killer whales. But grampus have much lighter 
coloration, from slate gray to nearly all white, and larger 
animals are covered with numerous scratches. Upon closer 
examination they can be further distinguished from killer 
whales by a crease in the front of the head dividing the melon 
into two distinct sections. Grampus are considerably smaller, 
to about 13 feet (4 m) maximum length. 

Distribution 

In the western North Atlantic killer whales have been 
reported from the polar pack ice south to Florida and St. 
Vincent, Lesser Antilles, and into the Gulf of Mexico at least 
as far as Texas, though they are far more common in the 



84 




Figure 88.-A smaU herd of kiUer whale« off southern California (top) and details of an adult male from that '>"f '™^f ' ""l^V^t Je tTe f^ns of 
maTes off Islas San Benito. Baja CalUornia (bottom). Adult males have a taU erect dorsal fin, which may be '-''''■ ''^•'"^'^.^'^If^'^J'^^^^^^ 
females and immature males are less than 3 feet (0.9 m) tall, distinctly falcate, and pointed on the t.p. Both sexes frequently have a graysh white region, 
called a "saddle," behind the dorsal fin. [Photos by T. Dohl [top and middU] and S. Leatherwood [bottom].) 



85 



cooler waters from about New Jersey north. Throughout 
their range, killer whales seem to prefer coastal areas and 
often enter shallow bays, estuaries, and river mouths in 
search of food. 

Migrations of the species are probably closely tied to 
movements of their food supply. They annually arrive on the 
coast of New England with the tuna. Along the Canadian 
coasts, where distribution and migrations have been 
described in some detail, killer whales appear to move 
inshore in spring and summer. Many arrive off the east coast 
of Newfoundland in June, the Strait of Belle Isle in June and 
July, and slightly later along the Labrador coast and Arctic 
waters. They are found around the loose ice in April, 
presumably feeding on harp seals, Pagophilus groenlandicus, 
and hooded seals, Cystophora cristata, and are frequent in 
the St. Lawrence estuary in spring and autumn following the 



movements of the white whales. The northward movements 
in spring also coincide with migrations of balaenopterine 
whales, which have also been reported among the food items. 
Killer whales may remain in arctic or subarctic waters until 
driven out by new forming ice in October and November. 
Though the migration has not been as thoroughly described, 
killer whales apparently begin shifting southwards in 
autumn. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded killer whales should be readily identifiable by 
the robust body, the distinctive body markings, and in larger 
animals the tall dorsal fin. Killer whales have from 10 to 12 
large, prominent teeth on each side of the upper and lower 
jaws. 



\ 





\ 



Figure 89. — Killer whales are often distributed very close to shore. In these photos from Baja California, they are shown in two characteristic 
behaviors— breaching (top) and "spy-hopping" or "pitchpoling" (bottom). (Photos by S. Leatherwood.) 









Figure 90. — A leaping killer whale in California aquarium. Note the 
distinctive coloration of the species, white on the lower jaw, the bcUy and 
the anus, and on both sides above the anus. Note also the distinctive white 
eye patch often visible on animals at sea. (Photo by D. K. Caldwell ) 



Figure 91. — Killer whales have from 10 to 12 large prominent teeth, 
curved slightly backwards and inwards on each side of each jaw. {Photos 
from Point Mugu, Calif, by S. Leatherwood. ) 



87 



FALSE KILLER WHALE (T) 

Pseudorca crassidens (Owen 1846) 



Other Common Names 

Mongoose (St. Vincent). 

Description 

False killer whales in the western North Atlantic reach a 
length of at least 18 feet (5.5 cm). Males are slightly larger 
than females. Calves from 5 to 7 feet (1.5 to 2.1 m) may be 
seen at any time throughout the year. 

The dorsal fin, located just behind the midpoint of the 
back, is from 7 to 16 inches (17.8 to 40.6 cm) tall, falcate, and 
variable to sharply pointed on the tip. The flippers are 
characterized by a broad hump on the front margin near the 
middle, a characteristic which is diagnostic for the species. 

The body of the species is all black except for a blaze of 
gray on the belly between the flippers. This blaze varies from 
barely visible to light grayish white similar to but generally 
fainter than that of pilot whales. The body is long and slender, 
and the head is narrow and gently tapered from the area of 
the blowhole forward. 

Natural History Notes 

False killer whales are a social form and may occur in 
herds of up to at least 100 individuals. They often jump clear 
of the water and frequently ride the bow waves of vessels. 
They are the only "blackfish" which are known to do so. False 
killer whales feed primarily on squid and large fishes and are 
notorious for their habit of stealing fish from the lines of 
fishermen. The large prominent teeth may be visible on a 
swimming animal. 



May Be Confused With 

False killer whales may be confused with killer whales, 
pilot whales, or the smaller, poorly known pygmy killer whale 
(p. 138) and many-toothed blackfish (p. 142). 

The characteristics distinguishing the species from the 
killer whale are tabularized on p. 84; its differences from the 
pilot whales are summarized on p. 92. 

At sea, false killer whales are distinguishable from the 
other two species primarily by their larger size and 
differences in coloration. False killer whales are up to 18 feet 
(5.5 m) in length. Pygmy killer whales and many-toothed 
blackfish reach only 8-9 feet (2.4-2.7 m) in length. Pygmy 
killer whales have an extensive region of white on the belly 
which my extend onto the sides and both pygmy killer whales 
and many toothed blackfish have a distinctive white region 
on the lips, usually lacking or indistinct on false killer whales. 

Neither of the smaller species of blackfish has been 
reported to ride bow waves. 



Distribution 

False killer whales are widely distributed in the pelagic 
tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters of the 
western North Atlantic. They have been reported from off 
Maryland south along the mainland coasts of North America, 
in the Gulf of Mexico from Cuba and the Lesser Antilles, and 
from the southeast Caribbean Sea. The species has been 
reported from Venezuela. 

False killer whales do not appear to occur frequently in 
coastal waters, sandy bays, or estuaries, though entire herds 



-^ - »» 




Figure 92. - False killer whales at sea 600 miles (968.0 km) off northeastern Florida. Note the smoothly falcate 
dorsal fin, pointed on the tip, and located near the midpoint of the back. Dorsal fins of this species may also be 
rounded on the tip but all are sharply concaved on the rear margin. {Photo by H. E. Winn. ) 




Figure 93. -False killer whales are the only "blackfish" that routinely 
ride the bow waves of vessels. On this animal riding on the bow wave of a 
research ship, note the all-black coloration of the back, head, and sides 
and the broad "hump" near the middle of the flippers on the leading edge. 
^Photo 600 miUi [968 km] off northeattem Florida by H. E. Wirm.) 



have stranded in such areas. Records from throughout the 
range suggest that the species has an oceanic distribution. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded false killer whales can be positively identified 
by: 1) the large size (to 18 feet [5.5 m]): 2) the slender body 
tapering rapidly to a long slender head; 3) the markedly long 
mouth, with from 8 to 11 large, conspicuous teeth in each side 
of each jaw recalling those of the killer whale, but circular and 
not, as in killer whales, elliptical; 4) the unusually shaped 
flipper bulging conspicuously on the forward margin. 

For comparison with "blackfish" of similar size (the pilot 
whales) see p. 92 and 94. 



Figure 94. — A false killer whale stranded in northeastern Florida. Note 
the narrow tapering head, overhanging the lower jaw by several inches, 
the position and shape of the dorsal fin and the distinctive "hump" on the 
leading margin of the flippers. {Photo by W. A. Huck, courtesy of 
Marineland of Florida. ) 




N 



89 




V5 





^**- 


• '■ 


•' 






'^vT^^ 






« 







^.i«^ 



Figure 95. — Entire herds of false killer whales sometimes strand themselves. In this dorsal view of an animal stranded in southeastern Florida, 
note the extremely distinctive "hump" on the forward margin of the flippers and the narrow head, tapering towards the tip of the snout. (Photo 
byJ.KroL) 




Figure 96. — False killer whales have from 8 to 11 large, conspicuous teeth in each side of 
each jaw. These teeth are often visible in swimming animals, particularly when they are 
engaged in their obnoxious habit of stealing fish from the lines of fishermen. The teeth are so 
distinctive that they can also be used to identify even a badly decomposed stranded 
specimen. (Photo, courtesy of Sea L^e Park, Haiuaii) 



90 



ATLANTIC PILOT WHALE (T) 

Globicephala melaena (Traill 1809) 



Other Common Names 

Northern pilot whale, long-finned pilot whale, pothead, 
blackfish. calling whale, caa'ing whale. 



Description 

Male Atlantic pilot whales reach an average length of at 
least 20 feet (6.2 m). Females are slightly smaller, probably 
not e.xceeding 18 feet (5.5 m). Young are 5-7 feet (1.5-2.1 m) at 
birth. 

The head is thick and bulbous, a characteristic which 
reaches an extreme in the development of the head of adult 
males (prompting the common name "pothead"). The flippers 
are long (to one-fifth of the body length, or more) and 
sickle shaped. The tail is dorsally thickened just in front of 
the tlukes. 

The dorsal fin of this species is one of its most distinctive 
characteristics. It is low in profile, has a long base, is set far 
forward on the animal's back, and is falcate to "flaglike" in 
appearance. The dorsal fin of adult males reportedly has a 
thicker leading edge and a rounder form than that of the 
female. 

Atlantic pilot whales are black on the back and sides 
(prompting the common name "blackfish") but have an 
anchor-shaped patch of grayish white on the chin and a gray 
area on the belly, both of which are variable in extent and 
intensity. Some larger animals have a gray saddle behind the 
dorsal fin, though this zone of color is found more frequently 



in short- finned pilot whales. Young animals are often a lighter 
medium gray. 

Natural History Notes 

Atlantic pilot whales may occur in herds of 200 animals or 
more, though herds of 50 or fewer (4-6) are more common. 
They are sometimes found in association with Atlantic 
white-sided dolphins. 

Pilot whales are sometimes found hanging vertically in 
the water with the head and part of the back out of the water 
in what has been called "spy hopping" or "pitchpoKng." 
Individuals frequently lobtail. Pilot whales infrequently 
breach, a behavior which is usually confined to younger 
animals. They do not ride bow waves. 

Atlantic pilot whales feed primarily on squid but also take 
cod and other fishes. A Pacific pilot whale, a closely related 
species, was found by radio telemetric studies to be capable of 
diving to 2,000 feet (609.6 m). 

Atlantic pilot whales were formerly the object of an active 
shore fishery off Newfoundland (1950-1971). In addition, 
entire herds and, less frequently, individuals are sometimes 
stranded. 



May Be Confused With 

Atlantic pilot whales are most likely to be confused with 
false killer whales, with which they share the waters from off 




Figure 97. -A herd of Atlantic pilot whales off Massachusetts. The most distinguishing field characteristic of this species and »' 'heir southern 
crins, the short-finned pilot whales, is the highly distinctive dorsal fin. extremely long based, low in protJe, and set weU forward on the an.mals 
backs. {Photo by W. A. WatkiTiS.) 



91 




Figure 98. — Atlantic pilot whales frequently "lob 
tail" I raise the tail flukes above the surface and slap 
them against the water) (top) and pitchpole or 
spy-hop (hang vertically in the water with the head 
up and the tail down) (bottom). (Photos from the 
North Atlantic by H. E. Winn. 



Virginia to those off Maryland. The two species may be 
distinguished by the following characteristics: 



Atlantic Pilot Whale 



False Killer Whale 



DORSAL FIN 
Broad- based and falcate. 



Slender, tall, falcate, 
pointed on tip. 



and 



SHAPE OF HEAD 



Thick and often squarish in 
larger animals. 



Slender, gently 
mouth long. 



tapering 



Robust. 



SHAPE OF BODY 

Long and slender. 



COLORATION 



Black with gray saddle some- 
times evident behind dorsal 
fin and gray region on chin 
and belly. 



Mostly black with gray blaze 
of variable extent and inten- 
sity on belly between flip- 
pers. 



92 



BEHAVIOR 



Will not ride bow waves; 
seldom breaches. 



May ride bow waves, often 
"porpoises" and breaches. 



RANGE 



Temperate waters from at 
least North Carolina north. 



Temperate seas from at least 
Maryland south. 



In the extreme southern portion of their range, Atlantic pi- 
lot whales may be confused with short-finned pilot whales with 
which they have only a limited seasonal common range. Char- 
acters distinguishing these species are subtle and may not be 
adequate to permit them to be distinguished at sea. For pur- 
poses of this guide it is generally that pilot whales living north 
of lat. 38°N (Virginia coast) are Atlantic pilot whales and 
those living south of lat. 38°N are short-finned pilot whales. 

Distribution 

Atlantic pilot whales, the northernmost of the two pilot 
whales species, are found in winter from the Grand Banks 
south as far as North Carolina and in summer from Iceland 
and Greenland south to the New Jersey coast. Winter 
concentrations of pilot whales may be found off the 
Newfoundland coast and near Cape Cod, Mass. Atlantic pilot 
whales are distributed both in coastal waters and in deep 
waters off the continental shelf. 



Stranded Specimens 

As discussed above, individuals and groups of pilot whales 
frequently strand themselves for still incompletely under- 
stood reasons. They may be identified as pilot whales 
primarily by: 1) the robust body and bulbous head, which is 
often squarish in adult animals, and 2) the broad-based, 
falcate dorsal fin located far forward on the back. Accurate 
determination of the pilot whale species involved in the 
stranding may require museum preparation of the skull and 
detailed examination of its characteristics. Preliminary 
identification may be made, however, based on the follow- 
ing: 



Atlantic Pilot Whale Short-Finned Pilot Whale 

FLIPPER LENGTH 

To one-fifth body length, or To one sixth body length, or 
more. less. 

NORMAL RANGE 
From North Carolina north. From North Carolina south. 

TEETH 
8-11 per row. 7 9 per row. 




Fieure 99 - North Atlantic pilot whales on the deck of a whaling station in Newfoundland. The anchor-shaped patch on the chin and the gray color of the 
belly are apparently more vivid and extensive in this species than in the short-finned pilot whales. Further, the fUpper is longer, measunng one-fifth of the 
body length, or more, in adult animals. The flippers of short-finned pUot whales (see Fig. 102) measure one-sixth of the body length or less. U>hoto by J. h. 
Mead.) 



93 



SHORT-FINNED PILOT WHALE (T) 

Globicephalamacrorhynchus Gray 1846 



Other Common Names 

Blackfish (see also p. 84, 91, and 94). 

Description 

Male short finned pilot whales of the western North 
Atlantic reach lengths of at least 17.5 feet (5.3 m). Females 
are reportedly slightly smaller than males (recorded only to 
15.5 feet 14.7 m]). 

The head, somewhat like that of the Atlantic pilot whales 
(p. 91), is thick and bulbous, a characteristic which reaches 
its extreme in the development of a flattened or squarish 
appearance to the front of the head in mature males (see 
Fig. 101). In very old males the melon may overhang the 
mouth up to several inches. The flippers are shorter than 
those of the other pilot whale species of the western North 
Atlantic (thus the common name short-finned pilot whale), 
reaching only one-sixth of the body length or less. The tail is 
dorsoventrally thickened just in front of the flukes. 

The dorsal fin, like that of the Atlantic pilot whale, is one 
of the species' most distinctive characteristics. It is low in 
profile, has a long base, and is set far forward on the animal's 
back. 

Short-finned pilot whales are all black on the back sides 
and most of the belly with an anchor-shaped patch of gray on 
the chin and a gray area of varying extent and intensity on the 
belly. These areas are less vivid and extensive than those on 



Atlantic pilot whales. Younger animals are lighter, often 
medium gray. 

Natural History Notes 

Short finned pilot whales are known to occur in groups of 
60 animals or more, though smaller groups are more common. 
They have been reported pitchpoling (spy-hopping), lob- 
tailing, and — rarely — breaching. 

Short-finned pilot whales feed on squid and fish. 

May Be Confused With 

In the tropical portion of their range, short- finned 
pilot whales may be confused with pygmy killer 
whales (p. 138) and many-toothed blackfish (p. 142). 
They may be distinguished from both species pri- 
marily by their distinctive dorsal fin and the bulbous- 
to squarish head. Both pygmy killer whales and 
many-toothed blackfish have dorsal fins, which are 
more falcate, slender, and pointed on the tip, and have 
longer, slenderer heads. 

Throughout their range short-finned pilot whales may be 
confused with false killer whales. The two species may be dis- 
tinguished by the same differences which distinguish Atlan- 
tic pilot whales from false killer whales (p. 91). 

In the extreme northern portion of their range, 




Figure 100. — Short-finned pilot whales stranded in northeastern Florida, shown here swimming in the lagoon at Marineland of Florida. This 
species, Uke their northern cousins, the Atlantic pilot whales, have a highly distinctive dorsal fin and a bulbous head (see Figs. 97, 99i. In these 
photos note the variation in the shape of the head. Those of females and immature males are more rounded. Those of adult males are far more 
blunted. (Photo courtesy of Marmeland of Florida.) 



94 



short-finned pilot whales may be confused with Atlantic pilot 
whales. The two species may be distinguished by differences 
itemized on p. 93. 

Distribution 

Though short- finned pilot whales are known from 
Delaware Bay, their normal range appears to extend from 
Bermuda and Cape Hatteras (Virginia in summer) south 
to the Venezuelan coast. They have been reported for 
the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the islands of the 
West Indies. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded short finned pilot whales may be confused with 
any of the species itemized under living animals. They may be 
identified as pilot whales primarily by the robust body and 
bulbous head, often squarish in adult animals, and the 
broad-based, falcate dorsal fin located well forward on the 



animal's back. Accurate determination of the pilot whale 
species involved may require museum preparation of the 
skull and detailed examination of its characteristics. 
Preliminary identification may be made, however, on the 
basis of the following: 



Atlantic Pilot Whale 



Short-Finned Pilot Whale 



DISTRIBUTION 

Primarily North Carolina Primarily Norih Carolina 
north. south. 

FLIPPERS 

To one-fifth body length, or To less than one sixth body 
more. length. 



8-11 per row. 



TEETH 

7-9 per row. 








-iZ *^?:^^, 



Figure 101 . — Short-finned pilot whales have from 7 to 10 teeth in each side of each jaw. The bulbous forehead of the species is far less pronounced in females 
and immature males (leftK The head of mature males is extremely "squarish" and may overhang the lower jaw by several inches (right). (Photos from 
Aquatarium [left] and southeastern Florida by D. K. Caldwell [right].) 



Figure 102. —The flippers of short-finned pilot whales reach 
only about one-sixth of the body length, while those of the 
Atlantic pilot whale may be one-fifth the body length or more. 
Note the length of the flippers of the pilot whale in the 
background, relative to its overall length. (Photo from South 
Carolina by J. G. Mead. ) 




95 



GRAMPUS (T) 

Grampus griseus (G. Cuvier 1812) 



Other Common Names 

Risso's dolphin, gray grampus, white-headed grampus, 
mottled grampus, Risso's porpoise, hard knocks (St. 
Vincent), white blackfish (Cape Cod). 

Description 

Grampus reach a maximum length of about 13 feet (4 m). 
The body is robust, particularly in front of the dorsal fin, and 
lacks a distinct beak. The head is somewhat bulbous and is 
marked on the front by a V-shaped crease with the point 
downwards, which divides the melon into two parts. The 
flippers are long and pointed on the tips. The dorsal fin, 
located at about the midpoint of the body, is tall, to 15 inches 
(38.1 cm) or more, and distinctly falcate. The body narrows 
rapidly behind the dorsal fin and the tail stock is quite 
narrow. The flukes are broad, concaved on the rear margin, 
and deeply notched. 

The bodies of grampus are a uniform light gray at birth. 
As the animals age, their color darkens to almost black with 
distinctive regions of grayish white on the belly and chest. 
The body of older adults is cream white or silver gray, 
particularly on the head, with numerous scars, presumably 
from encounters with other grampus and perhaps with the 
squid, which are one of the species' major food items. 

The flippers, dorsal fin, and tail flukes usually remain 
dark even in adults. 

Natural History Notes 

Grampus are found in herds of up to several hundred 
individuals and may be seen "porpoising" (leaping from the 
water) as they surface to breathe, and breaching. They 
sometimes ride the bow waves of a boat. 

Grampus feed on fish and squid. 



May Be Confused With 

From a distance grampus are most easily confused with 
Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins. They may be most readily 
distinguished by the following differences: 

Atlantic Bottlenosed 
Grampus Dolphin 



SIZE 



To 13 feet (4 m). 



Rarely to 12 feet (3.7 m); 
usually less than 10 feet (3.1 
m). 



BODY COLOR 



Young are uniform light 
g^ay; older animals dark 
with grayish regions on chest 
and belly; very old animals 
white and scarred. 



Dark gray on body; lighter 
gray on sides; white or pink 
on belly; may appear brown- 
ish in water. 



To 15 inches 
sharply falcate; 
tip. 



DORSAL FIN 

(38.1 cm); To 12 inches (30.5 cm); less 
pointed on sharply falcate; pointed on 
tip. 



HEAD COLOR AND SHAPE 



Blunted and creased on 
front; frequently all white in 
larger animals. 



Uniformly brownish to g^ay 
distinctly bottlenosed. 



MARKINGS 



Very often extensively scar- 
red. 



Less frequently scratched 
and scarred. 




Figure 103.— Grampus are frequently found in small tight groups "porpoising." From a distance they may resemble the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins, 
though grampus have taller dorsal fins, blunted beakless heads, and lighter coloration. [Photo off Washington State by C. Fiscua.) 



96 



■'-""■..^J^"'*'***-' 






Figure 104.— Grampus otf Fistler, Scotland 
(top) and from Baja California in the tank of Sea 
World, Inc., San Diego, Calif, (bottom). Note 
the tall pointed dorsal fin, which remains dark 
even in adult animals, the blunted head, which 
lacks a beak, and the extensive scarring of the 
body. In the photo on the right, note also the 
long pointed flippers and the white head 
characteristic of older animals. {Pkotos by 
A. S. Clark [top] and courtesy ofD. K. Caldwell 
[bottom].) 



Distribution 



Stranded Specimens 



Grampus are known to be distributed in temperate and 
tropical seas from at least eastern Newfoundland, south at 
least to St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles, and in the eastern and 
northern Gulf of Mexico. The species may not be as rare as the 
paucity of records suggests. Though they have been seen in 
Buzzards Bay on several occasions, grampus generally have 
an oceanic range and, along the Atlantic coast of North 
America, may be distributed from the Gulf Stream seaward, 
outside the theater of normal boating traffic. 



Stranded grampus are most readily identifiable by 1) the 
presence of only seven, or fewer, teeth in each side of the 
lower jaw (many of those teeth may have dropped out in older 
animals and remaining teeth may be extensively worn) and 
the absence of teeth in the upper jaw; 2) the presence of a 
distinct crease or bifurcation in the melon on the extreme 
front of the head; 3) the presence of numerous scratches and 
scars all over the body; and 4) the tall, slender, sharply falcate 
dorsal fin which may be more than 15 inches (38.1 cm) tall. 



97 




Figure 105. —Grampus, particularly younger animals, have two regions of 
grayish-white on the ventral surface , one in front of the flippers and another 
beginning on the belly narrowing towards the tail. These markings closely 
resemble the ventral marking of pilot whales. {Photos courtesy of Marine- 
land of Florida.) 





Figure 106. - Stranded grampus can be readily identified. On this captive 
animal note the blunted head, the distinct crease on the front of the head 
(see also Fig. 107), and the extensive scarring of the body. [Photo 
courtesy of D. K. Caldwell) 



Figure 107. —Grampus have seven or fewer teeth in each side of the lower 
jaw. (None in the upper jaw.) Many of these teeth may have fallen out of 
older specimens, and the remaining teeth may be extensively 
worn. (Photo courtesy of Marmeland of Florida.) 



98 



BELUGA (T) 

Delphinaptems leucas (Pallas 1776) 



Other Common Names 

White porpoise, white 
marsouin blanc (Quebec). 



whale, belukha, sea canary. 



Description 

Belugas reach a maximum overall length of about 16 feet 
(4.9 m). Males are slightly larger than females. In the western 
North Atlantic they have been found to grow to greatest 
lengths in oceanic environments near the southern 
e.xtremities of their ranges, though they are found in far 
greater abundance in estuarine areas of the Arctic. Belugas 
have extremely robust bodies tapering to a distinct "neck" 
region and a very small head relative to body size. 

They do not have a dorsal fin. Instead, along the back just 
behind the midpoint there is a narrow ridge notched laterally 
to form a series of small bumps. These ridges may be clearly 
visible on a swimming animal. 



Newborn belugas are brown. As they age, they gradually 
lighten through slate gray, and by their sixth or seventh year 
have assumed the all-white coloration characteristic of adult 
animals. 

Natural History Notes 

Belugas feed on a variety of fishes (including cod and 
capelin), on squid, and on a variety of benthic crustaceans. 

They are frequently found in shallow bays and river 
mouths, where the young are born, and occasionally ascend 
rivers. 

May Be Confused With 

Because of their limited distribution, all-white coloration 
and lack of a dorsal fin, belugas are unlikely to be confused 
with any other species of cetacean. 





Figure 108 - A group of three belugas surfacing to breathe off northwestern Alaska. The animal to the right has just begun to exhale, the middle ammal is 
in the midst of his inhalation, and the animal on the left has completed his blow and is preparing to dive. Note the aU-white coloration and, on the center 
animal, the small dorsal ridge just emerging from the water. DetaUs of the dorsal ridge are clearly visible in the inset photograph. {Photos by O. C. Kay 

and K. G. Hewlett [inset].) 



99 




Figure. 109— Note the robust form and the small head of this swimming beluga off northwestern Alaska. {Photo 

by G. C. Ray. ) 




Figure 110. -Captive belugas at Vancouver public aquarium. Note the dorsal ridge, the shape of the head and body, and the unusually shaped flippers. 

[Photo byK. C. Bakomb.) 



100 



Distribution 

Belugas have been reported from the Arctic Circle south 
as far as eastern Connecticut, typically in estuarine habitats, 
though they do range into oceanic regions. They are most 
abundant from the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence 
northward. They remain near the Arctic Circle and in Hudson 
Bay to northern Greenland during winter, undertaking 
migrations to the south in autumn, straggling to the Maritime 
Provinces and as far as Connecticut. Belugas are regularly 
seen in the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers throughout 
late spring and summer. Return migrations to the north take 
place in spring. 



A small population in the estuary of St. Lawrence is 
resident throughout the year. 



Stranded Specimens 

Stranded belugas are unlikely to be confused with any 
other species of cetaceans. The all-white coloration, the 
robust body shape with a rather small head and a distinct 
neck region, and the presence of 8-11 teeth in each of the 
upper jaws and 8-9 in each of the lower jaws permit positive 
identification. 




Figure 111. — Ventral view of a beluga harpooned in the northeastern Canadian Esldmo Fishery. Note the very narrow tail, just in front of the flukes, and 
the robust form of the species. Belugas have B-9 teeth in each of the lower jaws, and 8-11 in each of the upper jaws. (Photo by P. F. Brodie.) 



101 



NARWHAL (T) 

Monodonmonoceros Linnaeus 1758 



Other Common Names 

Unicorn whale (historical name not currently in use). 

Description 

The narwhal, also known as the unicorn whale because of 
the long tusk found on adult males, is one of two 
medium- sized whales found in the Arctic waters of the 
northwestern Atlantic. They reach a maximum length of 
from 15 to 16 feet (4.6 to 4.9 m) excluding the tusk. Newborn 
calves are approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) long. Narwhals have 
small rounded heads and a small mouth. Like the other 
medium-sized whale in the same region, the beluga or white 
whale, the narwhal has no dorsal fin. Instead, it has a series of 
bumps, approximately 2 inches (5.1 cm) high along the 
midline of the back in the half nearest the tail. The ridge 
created by these bumps may be readily seen on a swimming 
animal. 

The basic coloration of the species changes slightly with 
age. Young animals are uniformly dark bluish gray on the 



back but rapidly begin to develop the numerous leopardlike 
spots on the back and sides characteristic of adults. Those 
spots rarely extend onto the belly even in old animals. 

Narwhals have only two teeth. In the females, these teeth 
rarely emerge from the gums. In males, one and sometimes 
both of those teeth grow out the front of the snout, spiraling 
in a left-hand or sinistral direction, and may reach a length 
of 9 feet (2.7 m). One or two tusks may also be exposed, 
however, in females. 

Natural History Notes 

The function of the tusk in male narwhals is unknown, but 
it was this feature of the animal that earned it the name 
"unicorn whale" and resulted in its extensive hunting by 
whalers. During their annual migrations narwhals may 
congregate but are commonly found in groups of 10 or fewer 
during the rest of the year. 

Narwhals feed on a variety of organisms, including cod, 
rockfish, flounder, and crabs, but their diet consists primarily 
of squid. 





'^\*^ 



-^ •awmii 



Figure 1 12. - In this photo of narwhals, the origin of the name "unicorn whale" is apparent. The animal at the right, an adult male, exposes his tusk 
as he surfaces aggressively to breathe. Even when this feature is not observed, however, the narwhals' mottled gray coloration makes them easy to 
distinguish from the all-white belugas, with which they share a common range. Note also the dorsal ridge on the animal to the left. {Photo by D. 
Lusby, courtesy of the Sea Library. ) 



102 



Distribution 

Narwhals are found in the high arctic seas of the western 
North Atlantic, primarily in Lancaster Sound and its fringes. 
It has been noted that they are found in isolated pockets 
within that ran^e and are not, like the beluga, widely 
distributed. 

Narwhals make annual migrations in response to the 
movement of the ice. During the fall as the ice begins to 
form, the whales migrate to the south, sometimes reach- 
ing the Labrador coast. In the spring they return to the 
pack ice. 

May Be Confused With 

Narwhals are so different in coloration from the only 
medium-sized cetacean which shares its range and 



habitat— the beluga— that the two are highly unlikely to be 
confused. Belugas are usually all white or light slate gray in 
color, while narwhals are very much darker, ranging from 
bluish gray to brownish, and are often covered with light 
leopardlike spots. Furthermore, the body of the beluga is 
more robust. 

Further, swimming narwhals frequently buck their heads 
up to breathe, a behavior which makes the tusk of adult males 
visible and permits positive identification. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded narwhals should be easily identifiable by the 
distinctive coloration and the unique characteristics of the 
teeth. In adults, one or two of the teeth may develop into the 
long, left-hand spiraling tusk, shown in Figures 112 and 114. 
Immature animals have no teeth which are emerged. 




Figure 113. — A juvenOe narwhal in a tank at New York Aquarium. Though newborn animals are dark bluish 
gray on the back, fading to white on the belly, note that the mottled gray coloration characteristic of adults is 
well developed even in relatively young animals. The white region on the head is lanolin cream, applied to 
protect the animal's skin during transport. (Photo by H. E. Wmn.) 



i&B*^- 





Figure 1 14. — A stranded male narwhal. The long unicorn tusk is the spiral extension of one of the two teeth, though the other may be exposed above the 
gimis in males and may even develop into a second long tusk; both teeth of females are normally buried in the gums and rarely emerge. Note the highly 
distinctive dorsal ridge, near the midpoint of the back, photos by D. Luaby, courtesy of the Sea Library.) 



103 



ATLANTIC SPOTTED DOLPHIN (T) 

SteneUaplagiodon (Cope 1866) 



Other Common Names 

Spotter, Gulf Stream spotted dolphin, spotted porpoise, 
long-snouted dolphin." 

Description 

Atlantic spotted dolphins reach a maximum adult length 
of 7.5, perhaps 8 feet (2.3 to2.4 m). They are generally more 
robust in body shape than the other species of Stenella, 
closely resembling Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins in that 
regard, though the Atlantic spotted dolphins tend to be more 
slender. 

The dorsal fin is distinctly back-curved and pointed on the 
tip, also closely resembling that of the Atlantic bottlenosed 
dolphin. 

As the common name suggests, the Atlantic spotted 
dolphins are marked dorsally with numerous grayish-white 
spots on a darker background and ventrally with dark spots 



' ' See also p. 110. The common name "long-snouted dolphin" was once 
widely used for this species. It is now more frequently used for Stenella 
longirostris. also known as the spinner dolphin. 



on a lighter background, though the extent of the spotting 
and the additional details of coloration change with age. 

Immature animals lack spots completely. They are dark 
gray or purplish gray on the back, becoming lighter gray on 
the sides and white on the belly. The cape along the back is 
distinctly separated from the lighter gray coloration of the 
sides. The flippers and the trailing edge of the flukes are 
darker than the rest of the body. 

As they age, the Atlantic spotted dolphins develop 
grayish-white spots, first low on the sides, spreading 
upward. During this stage, the cape becomes less distinct, 
and dark spotting begins to develop on the belly, the spots 
increasing in number with increasing age. In adult animals, 
the belly is often extensively covered with dark blotches but 
never becomes completely black. The lips may be white, and 
the beak is characteristically tipped with white, a feature 
which may aid in identification at sea. 

The Atlantic spotted dolphins have a spinal blaze and a 
light line which extends from the flipper to the eye. 

Natural History Notes 

Little is known of the natural history of the Atlantic 
spotted dolphins. The species occurs in herds of up to several 




Figure 115. — Atlantic spotted dolphins beside a research vessel off Beaufort, N.C., September 1965. Adults of this species can be identified by 
the spotting pattern and the white coloration of the lips. (See also bridled dolphin, p. 108.) Young animals which lack spots may be confused 
with the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins though they are smaller and are purplish gray on the back. {Photo by G. T. Green.) 



104 



hundred individuals, though groups of 50 or fewer (6-10) are 
more common. They are often seen jumping clear of the water 
and habitually ride the bow wave of moving vessels. As they 
do. the distinct cape or band of purplish gray on the back of 
younger animals and the spotting pattern of older animals 
may be visible. 

Atlantic spotted dolphins feed primarily on squid but may 
also take carangid fishes, small eels, herring, or ancho- 
vies. 

May Be confused With 

Atlantic spotted dolphins, particularly young animals, 
may be easily confused with Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins 
because of the similarities in color pattern and general body 
shape. However, the Atlantic spotted dolphins have 
considerable purplish gray in their background colors and the 
Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins are more dark gray to brownish 
gray. This along with considerable differences in the overall 
sizes of the two species should permit positive identification. 
In general, the key differences between spotted and 
bottlenosed dolphins are as follows: 



HEAD AND BEAK 



Head more slender; beak 
longer; lips and top of snout 
often white. 



Head robust; beak short; 
beak usually uniformly gray 
(older animals' beak may be 
white at tip). 



NORMAL DISTRIBUTION 



Usually found more than 5 
miles offshore; most common 
inside 100-fathom curve. 



Usually more coastal, often 
ascending rivers and enter- 
ing lagoonal and estuarine 
areas. 



Young Atlantic spotted dolphins are so similar in 
appearance to the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins that the 
frequent reports of mixed schools of the two species are 
probably occasioned by groups of spotted dolphins which 
include some young, still unspotted animals. 

Atlantic spotted dolphins might also be confused with 
bridled dolphins. The two can be most readily distinguished 
by the following characteristics: 



Atlantic Spotted Dolphin 



Bridled Dolphin 



Atlantic Spotted Dolphin 



Atlantic Bottlenosed 
Dolphin 



MAXIMUM SIZE 



To 7.5-8 feet (2.3-2.4 m). 



To 8-10 feet (2.4-3.1 m) 
inshore, to as much as 12 feet 
(3.7 m) offshore. 



BODY COLOR 



Dark purplish gray on back; 
lighter gray on sides and 
belly; body becomes increas- 
ingly spotted with age. 



Dark gray on back; lighter 
gray on sides; white or pink 
on belly (old animals may 
have a few spots on belly, but 
most are not spotted). 



BODY SHAPE 
Usually robust, often like More slender, more like that 
that of the Atlantic bottle- of the Atlantic striped dol- 
nosed dolphin. phin. 



BODY 

Spotted; purplish gray on 
back; lighter gray on sides 
and belly becoming increas- 
ingly spotted with age. As 
animals becomes more spot- 
ted, cape become less dis- 
tinct. Body has spinal blaze 
and light line from flipper to 
eye. 



COLOR 
Spotted; side of head light 
gray; body has stripe from 
flipper to corner of mouth, 
though the stripe tends to 
fade as spotting increases. 
Cape on top of head more 
distinct that on Atlantic 
spotted dolphin. Body has no 
spinal blaze. 



Figure 116. — A side view of two female Atlantic 
spotted dolphins from off St. Augustine, Fla. in the 
tank at Marineland of Florida. Note the tall falcate 
dorsal fin, pointed on the tip and varying slightly in 
shape between the two individuals, and the spots on 
the body. {Photo by S. Leatherwood.) 




105 




Figure 117. — A series showing the development of the color pattern of the Atlantic spotted dolphins from Florida. Newborn or young animals are dark 
purplish gray on the back, grading to immaculate white on the belly. As they mature, animals develop light spots, first on the lower sides, then higher on the 
back, and dark spots on the belly. As spotting increases, the cape becomes less distinct. (Photos by A. SoUs [a], D. K. Caldwell (6, c], and courtesy of 
Marmeland of Florida (4 e, /]. ) 



106 



At sea the Atlantic spotted dolphins may also be confused 
with rough-toothed dolphins (p. 135). 

Distribution 

Atlantic spotted dolphins are a common species in the 
continental waters of the tropical and warm temperate 
western North Atlantic. Although they are far more 
abundant south of Cape Hatteras, they have been reported 
from the latitude of Cape May. N.J. (some fishermen claim to 
have seen them even further north) south through the Gulf of 
Mexico and the Caribbean to Venezuela. Atlantic spotted 
dolphins may be replaced around the West Indies by the 
bridled dolphin. 

Within this range, the Atlantic spotted dolphins appear to 
be generally restricted to the waters outside the 100-fathom 
curve, most commonly more than .5 miles offshore. However, 



populations in the Gulf of Mexico move inshore in the late 
spring, and may approach close to shore during spring and 
summer. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded Atlantic spotted dolphins may be difficult to 
distinguish from bridled dolphins. If the color pattern is still 
clearly visible, the differences in coloration described above, 
particularly those of the head, and the presence or absence of 
a spinal blaze may be used. But since external appearance 
other than coloration are often very similar, specimens 
should be photographed from as many aspects as possible and 
the entire specimen or the roughed-out complete skeleton 
transported to a museum for preparation and examination. 
Tooth counts recorded for the two species to date are also 
verv similar. 




Figure 118 — Juvenile Atlantic spotted dolphins at 
sea in the southeastern Caribbean. Although 
spotters can be either relatively short-snouted and 
chunky or long-snouted and slightly built, the 
spinal blaze, flipper-to-eye stripe, white lips, and 
falcate dorsal fin can be used to identify 
them. [Photo by D. Poppe.) 



Figure 119. — A captive Atlantic spotted dolphin 
from off St. Augustine, Fla. This species has from 
30 to 36 teeth in each upper jaw and from 28 to 35 in 
each lower jaw. fewer than all other S(^«e^/a except 
perhaps the bridled dolphin, fewer than the 
saddleback dolphins, but more than the Atlantic 
bottlenosed dolphins. {Photo by S. Leatherwood. ) 



1 ■ 








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107 



BRIDLED DOLPHIN (T) 

Stenella frontalis (G. Cuvier 1829) 



Other Common Names 



Bridled spotted dolphin, Cuvier's dolphin, gamin (St. 
Vincent), bridled porpoise. 

Description 

Bridled dolphins, the second species of spotted dolphins in 
the western North Atlantic, reach an adult length of at least 
7 feet (2.1 m). Like the other, the Atlantic spotted dolphin 
(p. 104), bridled dolphins are characterized by light grayish- 
white spots on the dark dorsal portions of the body and dark 
spots on the light ventral surface. Other details of the 
coloration differ somewhat. Bridled dolphins are dark gray 
on the back, fading to lighter gray on the sides and belly. 
They lack the spinal blaze characteristic of Atlantic spotted 
dolphins. Except on the head, the border between the back 
and side colors is indistinct. On the head, the cape (the dark 
color of the! top of the head) is distinct. In the light g^ay of 
the side of the head are the markings from which the species 
derives its common name, "bridled dolphin." These are a 
black circle around the eye with an extension to the junction 
(apex) of the rostrum and the melon (present in nearly all 
dolphins) and a broad black stripe from the origin of the 
flipper to the corner of the mouth. This mouth-to-flipper 
stripe tends to fade as spotting increases. Both the upper 
and lower lips are white or pinkish. 

Natural History Notes 

Virtually nothing is known of the natural history of 
bridled dolphins except that they have been observed in small 
herds of from 5 to 30 individuals and sometimes ride the bow 
wave of a vessel. 

May Be Confused With 

At sea, bridled dolphins may be confused with Atlantic 
spotted dolphins or spinner dolphins. Differences by which 
they may be distinguished from the first are tabularized on 
p. 105. Differences between spinner and bridled dolphins 
permitting identification at sea are as follows: 



Bridled Dolphin 



Spinner Dolphin 



COLORATION 



Distinct cape on top of head; 
side of head light gray; 
distinct stripes from flippers 
to corner of mouth and from 
dark circles around eye to 
apex of melon. 



Dark gray on back; tan or 
yellowish tan on sides; white 
on belly. 



BEAK 



Shorter and more slender; all 
black; lips white. 



Extremely long and slender; 
dark gray to black on top, 
white below; lips black. 



DORSAL FIN 



Uniformly dark gray. 



Distribution 



Often lighter gray in middle, 
dark around border. 



Bridled dolphins occur in tropical and subtropical waters 
primarily near coastal areas and islands, but are best known 
from the West Indies. They have been reported from the 
Antilles, from Texas, and from Florida north to North 
Carolina. It has been speculated that this species replaces the 
Atlantic spotted dolphin around the West Indies. 

Bridled dolphins have not yet been described from the 
South American coast. 

Stranded Specimens 

Bridled dolphins have from 29 to 34 teeth in each upper 
jaw and from 33 to 36 in each lower jaw. They can be 
distinguished from spinner dolphins, which have 46-65 teeth 
in each jaw, by this character alone. 

They may be distinguished from spotted dolphins only if 
the color pattern of the head is clearly visible. If it has faded, 
the specimen will probably require museum preparation and 
examination before it can be positively identified. 



108 





-- 


- 


Vv 












uyfli 




IpH 



> 



Figure 120. - A bridled dolphin harpooned in the commercial whale fishery off St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles. If the color pattern has faded, bridled dolphins 
cannot be readily distinguished from the Atlantic spotted dolphins and must be sent to a museum for preparation and examination of the skull and 
skeleton. (PAoto hy W. A. Huck, courtesy of MarmeUmd of Florida.) 




Figure 121. — A bridled dolphin from St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles. Note the dark cape of the back, the 
lighter side, and the dark stripes from the eye to the snout (found in most dolphin species) and the flipper to 
the gape, a feature which fades as the animal's spotting increases. Together these two features comprise 
the "bridle" from which the common name derives. Note also the white lips and the white lower jaw. 
(Photo by J. R. Sullivan.) 



109 



SPINNER DOLPHIN (T) 

Stenella longirostris Gray 1828 



Other Common Names 



Long-snouted dolphin, long-beaked porpoise, spinner 
porpoise, rollover (St. Vincent). 

Description 

Spinner dolphins reach a maximum length of about 7 feet 
(2.1 m). The body is slender. The beak varies from extremely 
long and slender (Fig. 123) to relatively short (Fig. 125); the 
beak is usually dark on top and clean white below, though 
there may be some white above. The tip of the snout and the 
lips are distinctly black, while those of both species of spotted 
dolphins are light. The back is dark gray to black, the sides 
are tan to yellowish brown, and the belly is white. Some of the 
larger animals appear almost all black with faint, light 
speckling. The dorsal fin is generally moderately falcate, but 
may be almost triangular in adult males. It is often a lighter 
gray near the middle, bordered by black or dark gray. 

Natural History Notes 

Spinner dolphins derive their common name from 
their habit of leaping clear of the water and spinning 
on their longitudinal axis. The reasons for this behavior 
are unknown. Individuals may rotate 2 times, or more, 
in one leap but spinning behavior is not observed as 
frequently in the western North Atlantic as it is in the 
eastern tropical Pacific. 

Spinner dolphins occur in herds of up to several hundred 
individuals and are often seen jumping clear of the water, 
working the sea surface into a froth. They frequently come to 



the bow of a boat from considerable distances to ride in the 
bow wave and may ride for protracted periods. 

May Be Confused With 

Spinner dolphins may be confused with saddleback 
dolphins. Both species occur in large herds and often come to 
moving vessels to ride the bow wave. The two can be 
distinguished, however, by these differences: 



Spinner Dolphin 



Saddleback Dolphin 



COLORATION 



Dark gray on back; tan or 
yellowish tan on sides; white 
on belly; lacks crisscross 
pattern on sides; distinct 
black stripe from flipper to 
eye. 



Dark gray to brownish gray 
on" back; white on belly with 
crisscross or hourglass pat- 
tern of tan to yellow on sides; 
distinct black stripe from 
flipper to middle of lower 
jaw. 



Spinner dolphins might also be confused with bridled 
dolphins, but may be distinguished by the differences 
summarized on p. 108. 

Distribution 

Spinner dolphins are distributed in oceanic and coastal 
tropical waters. Though one specimen was collected from 
South Carolina, they have been more frequently reported 
from both coasts of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the 
Caribbean, and the West Indies. They have also been 



3S 



jr . — »- 



"■^^ 




Fi^re 122. — Spinner dolphins occur in large herds 
in tropical waters. As illustrated by these photos of 
animals off Venezuela in 1969, spinner dolphins 
often leap clear of the water and may come to a 
moving vessel from considerable distances away to 
frolic in its bow wave. {Photo by M. Bartlett.) 



110 




Figure 123. — A spinner dolphin jumping 
close beside a research vessel off the Virgin 
Islands. The distinctive color pattern (gray 
on the back, tan on the sides, and white on 
the belly) is clearlvvisible. The black-tipped 
rostrum and the black lips are key 
characters to this species. {Photo by C. 
McCann. ) 



reported from Venezuela. They are said to be the most 
abundant dolphin species from the southeastern Caribbean. 
Some Pacific spinner dolphins are distributed in oceanic 
zones. Atlantic spinners may be abundant in offshore tropical 
waters as well. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded spinner dolphins are most readily identified by 
the extremely long rostrum and the 46-65 teeth, far more 
than any other species of dolphin. Note that the striped 
dolphins may have from 43 to 50 teeth per side in each jaw. 
However, striped dolphins are decidedly larger (to about 9 
feet [2.7 m]), have a shorter beak, and are distinctly marked 
with dark stripes from the eye to the flipper, from the eye to 
the anus, and from the area behind the dorsal fin forward, 
towards but not reaching the head. 

Saddleback dolphins also have from 40 to 50 teeth on each 
side but are also easily distinguishable by the differences in 
coloration discussed above for living animals at sea. 



Figure 124.— Spinner dolphins are active bow 
riders and may stay with a vessel for long periods of 
time. {Photo from off the Virgin Islands by H. E. 
Wirm.) 




Ill 



^^ 




Figure 125. — Although all spinner dolphins so far examined have the same basic characteristics, the degree of expression of those characteristics varies 
from individual to individual or area to area. These small short-snouted dolphins (those on bottom stranded near St. Petersburg, Fla. and maintained 
alive by the Aquatarium in that city, and those on top photographed at sea. off the northwestern Africa coast in 1972) are spinners, although their 
classification is uncertain. There may be several species or geographical races of spinners in the Atlantic. {Photos courtesy of W. F. Perm [top] and 
Aquatarium [bottom].) 




Figure 126. — A spinner dolphin harpooned in the fishery at St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles. Even aher subtle aspects of the color paUem have faded, this 
species can be readily identified by the 46-65 teeth in both upper and lower jaws and by the distinctly black lips and black-tipped rostrum. {Photo by W. A. 
Huck, courtesy of Marmeland of Florida. ) 



112 



STRIPED DOLPHIN (T) 

SteneUacoemkoalba (Meyen 1833) 



Other Common Names 



Euphrosyne dolphin (SteneUa styx), Meyen's dolphin, 
blue-white dolphin, Gray's dolphin, striped porpoise, 
streaker porpoise. 



Striped Dolphin 



Saddleback Dolphin 



LENGTH 



To about 9 feet (2.7 m) 
more. 



Seldom greater than 7.5 feet 

(2.3 m). 



Description 

The striped dolphin is a widely distributed relative of the 
spinner and the Atlantic spotted dolphins, though it more 
closely resembles saddleback dolphins than either of these 
two species. It reaches a maximum length of about 9 feet (2.7 
m) and is characterized by a series of distinctive black stripes. 
One band of black begins near the eye and extends down the 
side of the body to the area of the anus. (A small secondary 
stripe originating with this band turns off and disappears in 
the white coloration of the side just above the flippers.) A 
second band of black extends from the eye to the flipper. 
Some workers have contended that striped dolphins are 
separable into distinct species depending on whether the 
eye-to-flipper stripe has one (S. coerufeoaZfea) or two (S. styx) 
components. 

Most individuals have an additional distinctive finger of 
black coloration which extends from the black coloration 
behind the dorsal fin forward towards and about halfway to 
the eye. It is this feature which is most distinctive in animals 
riding the bow or leaping clear of the water. The back is dark 
gray to bluish gray, the sides are lighter gray, and the belly is 
white. 



Natural History Notes 

Though little is known of this species, it has been reported 
in herds of up to several hundred individuals and apparently 
exhibits behaviors very similar to those of the saddleback 
dolphins (p. 116), frequently jumping clear of the water. 
Atlantic and Mediterranean animals have been reported to 
bow ride. 



May Be Confused With 

This species is most likely to be confused with the 
saddleback dolphin, which it closely resembles. The two may 
be distinguished by the following characteristics: 



COLORATION 



Back basically black or 
brownish; distinct white 
chest or belly patch; hour- 
glass or crisscross pattern on 
the sides; distinct black 
stripe from flipper to middle 
of lower jaw. 



Back from light gray to dark 
gray to bluish gray; sides 
gray; belly gray or white; 
distinctive black lateral 
stripping from 1) eye to flip- 
per, 2) eye to anus, and 3) 
dark color behind dorsal fin 
forward, towards but not 
reaching head. 

Distribution 



Striped dolphins are widely distributed in the temperate, 
subtropical, and tropical seas of the western North Atlantic. 
They have been reported from at least Halifax, Nova Scotia, 
south as far as Jamaica. (Additional records, purportedly 
from southern Greenland, involved a museum specimen. 
Since striped dolphins of the eastern North Atlantic are rare 
north of England, the species occurrence near Greenland 
would be highly improbable.) Individuals have recently been 
reported from the Gulf of Mexico. 

Despite this wide distribution, striped dolphins appear to 
prefer warmer waters and are probably normally confined to 
the Gulf Stream or the waters off the continental slope. 
Individuals appearing to the north of the range seem to have 
ventured northward with fingers of warm water. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded striped dolphins should be readily identifiable 
by the highly distinctive patterns of lateral striping 
discussed above for living animals. If the color pattern has 
faded, they may still be identified by their size, larger than 
other dolphin species of similar appearance, and the 
relatively large number of teeth (43-50 per side in both 
upper and lower jaws). Only the spinner dolphin, much 
smaller in body length and having a much longer beak, has 
more teeth (46-65 per side in each jaw). 



113 




Figure 127. — Despite some similarities in appearance and behavior to saddleback dolphins, striped dolphins can be readily 
identified by the prominent dark stripes on the side of the body. These striped dolphins were photographed between the 
Caribbean Islands of Curacao and Bonaire in 1972. (Photo by D. Poppe.) 




Figure 128. — When they ride the bow, the most apparent characteristic of striped dolphins is usually the dark streak beginniug in 
the black coloration behind the dorsal fin and extending forward towards but not reaching the head. This stripe is not always 
present, however, and the species may sometimes appear uniformly pale gray from a distance. (Photo from the tropical Atlantic 
byH. E. Winn.) 



114 





Figure 129. — Stranded striped dolphins. Note the distinctive black stripes II eye to flipper, 2) eye to anus, and 3) (on top animal) from black behind 
dorsal fin forward towards but not reaching the head. Some workers contend that striped dolphins are separable into two species, depending on 
whether the eye-to- flipper stripe has one {SteneUa coeruleoalba) or two (S. styx) components. Others contend that the two belong to the same species 
(S. coeruleoalba). Striped dolphins have from 43 to 50 teeth in each upper and lower jaw. {Photos from Japan by W. E. Scheinll [top] and from Indi- 
an Rock» Beach, Flo. by W. A. Huck, courtesy of Marmeland of Florida [bottom].) 



115 



SADDLEBACK DOLPHIN (T) 

Delpkinus delphis Linnaeus 1758 



Other Common Names 



Saddleback porpoise, common dolphin, crisscross 
dolphin. 

Description 

Saddleback dolphins reach a maximum overall length of 
about 8.5 feet (2.6 m) though most individuals are less than 
7.5 feet (2.3 m) long. Males are slightly larger than females of 
the same age. 

The body shape varies slightly but usually closely re- 
sembles that of the striped dolphin (p. 113). The dorsal fin 
varies from nearly triangular to distinctly falcate and is 
pointed on the tip. It is sometimes all black and sometimes 
black on the borders with a lighter grayish region of varying 
size near the middle. 

The back is basically black or brownish black, but this 
coloration aiid the extent of the striping patterns that form 
the impression of a saddle and the degree of color distinction 
between the different zones are highly variable. 

The chest and belly are cream white to white and are the 
most distinctive features from a distance. Up close, the sides 
will be seen to be distinctly marked with an hourglass or 
crisscross pattern of tan or yellowish tan. This crisscross 
pattern is diagnostic for the species. 

The rostrum is intermediate in length and shape between 
that of thespinner and that of the striped dolphin and is often 
black with a white tip. 



Natural History Notes 

Saddleback dolphins are often seen in herds of a thousand 
or more and are often very active, many animals leaping clear 
of the water at any time. Like spinner dolphins, saddleback 
dolphins are active bow-riders and often come to the boat 
from considerable distances. Once on the bow they often ride 
for extended periods of time. 

Saddleback dolphins feed on squid and on a variety of 
fishes, including anchovies, myetophids, and hake. 



May Be Confused With 

Saddleback dolphins might easily be confused with 
striped dolphins and must be examined closely to be 
distinguished from them. Primary differences apparent in 
encounters at sea are as follows: 



Saddleback Dolphin 



Striped Dolphin 



Back basically black or 
brownish; distinct white 
chest or belly patch; hour- 
glass or crisscross pattern on 
sides, some tan to yellowish 



COLORATION 

Back from light g^ay to dark 
gray to bluish gray; sides 
gray; belly gray or white; 
distinctive black lateral 
striping from 1) eye to 



tan; distinct 
from flipper 
lower jaw. 



black stripe 
to middle of 



nipper, 2) eye to anus, and 3) 
dark color behind dorsal fin 
forward, towards but not 
reaching head. 



LENGTH 

To 9 feet (2.7 m). 



To 7.5 feet, rarely to 8.5 feet 
(2.3-2.6 m). 



From a distance, saddleback dolphins might also be 
confused with spinner dolphins because of the habits of both 
species of congregating in large schools with much jumping 
and splashing. Both species ride the bow wave, and close 
examination should permit positive identification using the 
following characteristics: 



Saddleback Dolphin 



Spinner Dolphin 



COLORATION 



Dark gray on back; tan or 
yellowish tan on sides; white 
on belly; lacks crisscross 
pattern on sides; distinct 
black stripe from flipper to 
eye. 



Dark gray to brownish gray 
on back; white on belly with 
crisscross or hourglass pat- 
tern of tan to yellowish tan 
on side; distinct black stripe 
from flipper to middle of 
lower jaw. 

Distribution 



Saddleback dolphins are widely distributed in the 
temperate, subtropical, and tropical waters of the western 
North Atlantic Ocean. They have been reported off 
Newfoundland, Iceland, Nova Scotia, and the coast of 
Massachusetts, south along the coast of North America to the 
Caribbean (West Indies and Jamaica), in the Gulf of Mexico, 
and from South American waters at least to Margarita Island, 
Venezuela. 

The species' occurrence in the more northerly portions of 
this range during the summer and early fall months appears 
to coincide with the intrusion of warm waters into those 
areas. They are not uncommon off Nova Scotia in summer 
and fall and are casual members of the marine mam- 
malian fauna of the remaining Maritime Provinces during 
that period. 

In previous years, saddleback dolphins were not 
uncommonly encountered by collectors of Marineland of 
Florida working the northeast coast of Florida, but the 
species has been conspicuously absent since about 1960. 
Reasons for this apparent shift of range are unknown. 

Stranded Specimens 

Saddleback dolphins have from 40 to 50 small, sharply 
pointed teeth in each side of both the upper and lower jaws. 
These numbers overlap with only those of the striped and 
spinner dolphins (with 43-50 and 46-65, respectively). 
Saddleback dolphins should be readily distinguishable from 



116 



both these species by the features outlined under the 
descriptions of living animals and distinguishable from the 



bridled dolphins by the distinctive markings on the head of 
the two species (see Figs. 121 and 134). 




m 





Figure 130. — Saddleback dolphins captured off St. Augustine, Fla. , shown in the tank at Marineland of Florida. The highly distinctive crisscross 
or hourglass pattern of tan or yellowish tan on the sides is clearly visible. Note also the light tip of the snout and the dark line from the center of 
the lower jaw to the flipper. This last characteristic readily distinguishes the saddleback dolphin from the striped dolphin, in which the black 
stripe begins at the corner of the mouth rather than near the center of the lower jaw. (Photos courtesy of Marineland of Florida.) 



117 



"^■^^p^- 



*.-- 

A 



^ 




Figure 131 . - Saddleback dolphins on the bow of a ship off Massachusetts in 1966. The color pattern, including the dark brownish-gray back, the 
crisscross pattern on the sides, and the white belly, are clearly visible. The light tip of the snout helps distinguish this species from the spinner 
dolphins, which have a black-tipped snout. {Photo by E. Wheeler.) 



M^^ 






-- ^^■'' 



Figure 132. -The distinctive crisscross pattern of the sides of the saddleback dolphins is clearly visible even when comparatively httle of the animal is 
seen. Note the falcate dorsal fin, which often, as here, is dark on the border, Ughter near the center. (Photo by R. K. BHgham, courtesy of National 
Marine Fitheriet Service. ) 

Figure 134. -A saddleback dolphin stranded on Westerly Beach, R.I. The origin of 
the common name "crisscross dolphin" is evident in the color pattern of the side. Note 
also the distinctive black stripe from the center of the lower jaw to the origin of the 
flipper. (Photo courtesy of H. E. Winn.) 



118 




"^ .«»«!*" 




/^ 
^ 







^-^ 



'^Sl 



Figure 133. — Saddleback dolphins frequeotly jump clear of the water and may reenter in a variety of ways: 1 ) smoothly, head first; 2) with a chin slap; 3) 
with an accompanying tail lob; or 41 on the sides or back with a splash. This habit enables them to be spotted from a considerable distance. When stressed, 
herds bunch tightly together, like the group in the bottom photo. (Phototfrom off Virgmia by J. G. Mead [top] and off San Diego, Calif by S. Leather- 
wood [bottom].) 




119 



FRASERS DOLPHIN (T) 

Lagenodelphis hoseiFraser 1956 



Other Common Names 

Sarawak dolphin, Bornean dolphin, Fraser's porpoise. 

Description 

Fraser's dolphins reach an overall length of at least 8 feet 
(2.4 m). They are extremely short-beaked and have a 
pronounced dark stripe, similar to that found on the striped 
dolphin, extending from the rostrum to the area of the anus. 
They are robust in build and have rather small flippers and 
dorsal fin relative to body size. The dorsal fin is slender, 
falcate, and pointed on the tip. The body is gray on the back 
and white on the belly. The color of the side is dominated by 
the striping pattern. A cream-white band beginning high on 
the rostrum extends above and past the eye, continues 
towards the tail, and finally dissipates in the body color above 
the anus. Just below and parallel to this cream- white band is a 
black one extending from the area of the eye to the anus. A 
second cream- white band below and parallel to this dark strip 
separates the darker gray coloration of the side from the 
white coloration of the belly. The flippers are dark above and 
below. 

Natural History Notes 

The little that is known of the natural history and behavior 
of the species may be summarized as follows: Fraser's 
dolphins occur in groups of up to at least 500 animals and in 
the Pacific are occasionally seen with spotted dolphins 
{SteneUa attenvxita). From all accounts, they are not 
uncommon in certain areas of the tropical Pacific and off 
South Africa. 

Fraser's dolphins appear to be deep divers. They are 
aggressive swimmers and, when they surface to breathe, 
often charge to the surface, creating a spray from their heads. 
They have also been reported leaping clear of the water. 

May Be Confused With 

Fraser's dolphin is intermediate in form between 
Lagenorhynchus and Delphinus delphis (thus the composite 
name Lagenodelphis). Because the species is apparently 
limited to tropical waters, however, and because of the 
prominent stripe on the side of the body, Fraser's dolphins 
are more likely to be confused with the striped dolphins 
(p. 113). The two species can be distinguished at sea by 
several characteristics: 



Fraser's Dolphin 



Striped Dolphin 



COLORATION 



Single broad black stripe 
from beak and eye back to 
area of anus. 



Color dominated by series of 
stripes from: 1) eye to anus; 
2) eye to flipper, and 3) black 



behind dorsal fin forward, 
towards but not reaching the 
head. 



BEAK 



Extremely short and indis- 
tinct. 



Longer, much more distinc- 
tive. 



BODY SHAPE 

Slenderer. 



Robust, particularly in front 
of dorsal fin. 



FLIPPERS 

Small, dark in color, and Longer, sometimes lighter 
originating in light color of on upper surface; note stripe 
sides. from front of flippers to eye. 

DORSAL FIN 



Small, slender, slightly fal- 
cate, and pointed on top. 



Taller dorsal fin. broader at 
base. 



Distribution 

Although Fraser's dolphins have yet to be described for 
the western North Atlantic Ocean, they are included here as 
"possibles" because of the recent discovery that their range is 
far more extensive than previously known. Records to date 
have been limited to offshore tropical waters. 

The species was first described in 1956 from the remains 
of a beach-washed specimen from Sarawak in the South China 
Sea. Since that time specimens have been collected from the 
eastern tropical Pacific, and others have stranded in such 
widely divergent localities as Australia, South Africa, and 
Japan. Recent summaries have added sighting records from 
the Central Pacific, near the Phoenix Island, from north- 
west of the Galapagos Islands, and from South African 
waters. 



Stranded Specimens 

Stranded Eraser's dolphins should be readily identifiable 
by 1 ) distinctive coloration of the body; 2) short, indistinctive 
beak; and 3) robust form. The only other species of small 
dolphins with beaks of similar length and general appearance 
are the Atlantic white-sided and white-beaked dolphins (p. 
123 and 126); these dolphins, both with far more northerly 
ranges, have 30-40 and 22-28 teeth in each side of each jaw, 
respectively, while Fraser's dolphins have from 40 to 44 
teeth in the upper jaw and from 39 to 44 in the lower jaw. 



120 



m^' 






Figurel35. — Fra$er'$ dolphins, like these photographed off the Phoenix Islands in the Pacific I top) and this one off the Philippines (bottom), are definitely 
identifiable in their tropical range by the short snout, the dark flank stripe and the small dorsal fin and flippers. They may reach 8 feet (2.4 ml, or more, in 
length and occur in herds of at least 500 animals, sometimes with spinner dolphins or Atlantic spotted dolphins. {Photos by K. C. Balcomb [top] and T. 
Hammond [bottom].) 



(following page) 

Figure 136. — Fraser's dolphins from the eastern tropical Pacific: adult (top and inset) 
and calf (bottom). Note the distinctive black lateral strip and the extremely small 
fUppers and dorsal fin. (Photos by R. Garvie [top arul intet] and S. Leatherwood 
[bottomY) 



121 




122 



ATLANTIC WHITE SIDED DOLPHIN (T) 

Lagenorhynchus acutus (Gray 1828) 



Other Common Names 

Atlantic white-sided porpoise, jumper (Newfoundland). 

Description 

Atlantic white-sided dolphins reach about 9 feet (2.7 m) in 
maximum length and are robust in form with a small but 
distinct beak (less than 2 inches [5.1 cm] long). 

The dorsal fin is tall, distinctly back curved, and pointed 
on the tip. The tail stock is extremely thick and does not 
narrow laterally until very near the tail flukes. 

The back is distinctly black, the belly white. The sides 
have zones of g^ray, tan, and white. 

The single most distinctive feature of Atlantic white-sided 
dolphins is an elongated oval zone of white and yellowish 
white along the sides from just below the dorsal fin to the area 
above the anus. These patches of lighter coloration, clearly 
demarcated from each other and from the surrounding 
coloration, are frequently visible simultaneously with the 
dorsal fin as the animals roll at the surface to breathe. Even 
alone this feature permits positive identification of the 
species. The dorsal fin is often part gray, part black. The beak 
is all black. 



Natural History Notes 

Atlantic white-sided dolphins are known to congregate in 
herds of perhaps a thousand animals, though smaller herds 
are far more common. The species is often wary of ships and 
does not ordinarily ride the bow wave. Like a number of other 
species, white-sided dolphins have been reported in 
association with Atlantic pilot whales. 



May Be Confused With 

At sea, Atlantic white-sided dolphins are most likely to be 
confused with the white-beaked dolphins, with which they 
overlap in distribution. Though they are very similar in 
general appearance, the two can be distinguished in the 
following ways: 



Atlantic White-Sided 
Dolphin 



White-Beaked Dolphin 



COLORATION 



Elongated band of yellowish 
white and white along side, 
visible behind and below 
dorsal fin as animal rolls. 



Two grayish areas— one in 
front, the other below and 
behind dorsal fin, visible as 
anirtial rolls. 



BEAK 



All black. 



Sometimes white in parts of 
range though western Atlan 
tic animals are usually dark. 



To 9 feet (2.7 m). 



MAXIMUM SIZE 

To 10 feet (3.1 m). 

DORSAL FIN 



Often part black, part lighter Uniformly dark, 
gray. 

Distribution 

Atlantic white-sided dolphins are distributed, primarily 
offshore, in the cool waters between the Gulf Stream and the 
Labrador Current. They have been observed from Hudson 
Canyon, off New York City, north to southern Greenland and 
perhaps Davis Straits. Their normal range shares a southern 
boundary with the white-beaked dolphin but does not extend 
as far to the north. 

Stranded Specimens 

In addition to the features described above for living 
animals at sea, stranded Atlantic white-sided dolphins can be 
distinguished from white-beaked dolphins by the following: 



Atlantic White-Sided 
Dolphin 



White- Beaked Dolphin 



NUMBER OF TEETH 



30-40 per side per jaw, 
sometimes more in upper. 



22-28 per side per jaw; have 
larger individual teeth— to 6 
mm in diameter. 



FLIPPERS 



Lower portion of forward 
margin more curved. 



Lower portion of forward 
margin less acutely curved. 



VENTRAL COLOR 



White coloration of belly 
extends high onto sides of 
body. 



White coloration of belly 
extends to lower jaw but not 
above flippers on sides. 



CAUDAL CRESTS 



Tail stock strongly compres- 
sed laterally; taller, narrows 
rapidly just in front of flukes. 



Tail stock less laterally 
compressed, tapers more 
gently towards tail flukes. 



123 



Figure 138. - An Atlantic white-sided dolphin off the eastern Canadian coast. These 
animals do not usually ride the bow wave, but when they can be examined at close 
range, they can be readily distinguished from their more northerly cousins, the 
white-beaked dolphins, by their highly distinctive color pattern. {Photo by P. B. 
Beamish. ) 



► 





^^Hi^^ 



/ijIPR *>^TR^» r'"' -Pi*» 



Figure 137.- Atlantic white-sided dolphins at sea between Cape Cod, Mass. and Nova Scotia. This species can be positively identified b\ the 
elongated zone of » hite and the adjacent region of tan or yellowish tan below and behind the dorsal fin, visible even in the fast -s» imming animalin 
the bottom picture. The top photo illustrates the origin of the Newfoundland common name "jumper." (Photos by K. C. Balcomb [top] and H. 
E. Winn [bottom].) 



124 






Figure 139. — The highly distinctive pattern oJ the Atlantic white-sided 
dolphins is clearly visible in this animal stranded in Scotland. Even if the 
color pattern has faded, however, this species should be easy to identify. 
The 30-40 teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws permit distinction 
from the white-beaked dolphins, which have only about 22-28 per side in 
each jaw. {Photos by B. ThtUock, courtesy of A. S. Clarke.) 




125 



WHITE-BEAKED DOLPHIN (T) 

Lagenorhynchus albirostris Gray 1846 



Other Common Names 

White-beaked porpoise, squidhound (Newfoundland). 

Description 

White- beaked dolphins reach a maximum overall length of 
about 10 feet (3.1 m). The body is robust in form with a tall, 
uniformly dark- gray dorsal fin, and a short but distinct beak 
which, as the common name implies, is often light gray to 
white above and below, at least in European waters. The 
beak of animals in the western Atlantic populations is less 
frequently white. The back and sides are basically dark gray 
to black, and the belly is white to light gray. 

Swimming white-beaked dolphins can be most readily 
identified by the two areas of pale coloration on the sides, one 
in front of and another below and behind the dorsal fin. These 
areas are clearly visible from a ship or aircraft as the animals 
roll at the surface. 

Natural History Notes 

White- beaked dolphins may sometimes occur in herds of 
up to 1,500 individuals. Like their cousins, the Atlantic 
white-sided dolphins, they do not commonly ride the bow 
waves of vessels. 

White- beaked dolphins feed on squid, octopus, cod, 
herring, capelin, and sometimes on benthic crustaceans. 

May Be Confused With 

In their northerly range white-beaked dolphins are likely 
to be confused with only the Atlantic white-sided dolphins. 
The most distinctive features of white-beaked dolphins are 1) 
the two areas of paleness described above, 2) the prominent, 
dark-gray dorsal fin, and sometimes 3) the white beak. Other 



features by which the two species may be distinguished in the 
brief encounters typical at sea are tabularized on p. 127. 

Distribution 

White-beaked dolphins are the more northerly of the two 
species of Lagenorhynchus in the western North Atlantic. 
They are found from Cape Cod, Mass., north to western and 
southern Greenland and Davis Straits, though they are 
apparently far more numerous to the north of this range. 
They appear in Davis Straits in spring and summ.er and leave 
that area in autumn, sometimes as late as November, to move 
southward. They winter as far south as Cape Cod, where they 
are the common dolphin species in April, May, and June 
(sometimes to July). Their migrations are poorly known. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded white-beaked dolphins can be most readily 
distinguished from white-sided dolphins by the substantial 




"^WiW, 



Figure 1 10. — Two viewH of white-beaked dolphins off Newfoundland. This species is characterized by a prominent uniform dark gray dorsal fin and two 
areas of paleness on the sides, one in front of and one below and behind the dorsal fin. White-beaked dolphins are distributed from Newfoundland north, 
extending to more northerly waters than Atlantic white-sided dolphins. (Photos by H. E. Wirm [bottom] and W. A. Watkim [top].) 



126 



differences in coloration and the differences in numbers of 
teeth. 

Atlantic White-Sided 
White- Beaked Dolphin Dolphin 



TEETH 



22-28 per side per jaw. 



30-40 per side per jaw, 
sometimes more in upper 
jaw. 



COLORATION 



Beak sometimes gray or 
white above and below; two 
pale areas visible on living 
animals not visible on strand- 
ed specimens. 



Beak all black: side marked 
with elongated areas of 
white with streaking pat- 
terns of yellow and tan. 



Additional characteristics by which the two species may 
be distinguished are summarized on p. 123. 




X 




Figure 141.— White-beaked dolphins reach nearly 10 feet (3.1 m) in length. Stranded animals, such as this specimen from Scotland, should be 
distinguishable from Atlantic white-sided dolphins by their differences in coloration. This species sometimes has a white beak and always lacks the 
elongated white patch and tan or yellow streaking found on the side of Atlantic white-sided dolphins. (Photos by A. S. Clarke.) 



127 



ATLANTIC BOTTLENOSED DOLPHIN (T) 

Tursiops truncates (Montague 1821) 



Other Common Names 

Bottlenosed porpoise, gray porpoise, common porpoise.'^ 

Description 

Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins reach a maximum overall 
length of about 12 feet (3.7 m) and weigh in excess of 1,430 
pounds (650 kg). They have relatively stubby snouts and 
dorsal fins, which are broad at the base, tall, and falcate. 
Coloration varies slightly, but individuals are usually dark 
gray on the back, lighter gray on the side, grading to white or 
pink on the belly. Old females may have spots on the belly. 
The dark coloration of the back often appears as a highly 
distinct cape, particularly on the head. 

Natural History Notes 

Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins often occur in groups of up 
to several hundred individuals which usually consist of 
aggregations of small groups of no more than a dozen animals 
each. They frequently associate with the Atlantic pilot 
whales and are frequently found accompanying the right and 
hump back whales travelling along the Atlantic coast of 
Florida. 

Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins have catholic tastes, 
feeding on shrimp, eels, catfish, menhadden mullet, and 
miscellaneous trash fish, to mention only a few. They are 
frequently found near shrimp boats, feeding on fish stirred up 
by the trawls or on discarded trash fish. 

They sometimes move in to ride the bow wave of a vessel, 
turning on their sides, sometimes spinning completely 
around on their longitudinal axis when doing so. Individuals 
may also turn their heads downward or to the side. They are 
often found close to shore, in bays and lagoons, and 
sometimes venture up the larger rivers. Some individuals, 
especially the larger animals, are found as far offshore as the 
edge of the continental shelf. Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins 
sometimes ride the surf. Individuals may jump clear of the 
water as high as 15-20 feet (4.6-6.1 m), a behavior on which 
aquarium shows have capitalized. 

Members of this species are the dolphins most commonly 
maintained in captivity at zoos, aquariums, marine parks, 
and research institutions. For that reason, they are perhaps 
more familiar to the general public than any other species of 
porpoise, dolphin, or whale. 

May Be Confused With 

From at least Cape Hatteras southward, the range of the 
Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins distributed in inshore areas 
may overlap with that of Atlantic spotted dolphins, 
particularly during the spring and summer, when the 
Atlantic spotted dolphins move inshore. There the two 



species may be confused. The Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins 
and the Atlantic spotted dolphins can be distinguished, 
however, by the following characteristics: 

Atlantic Atlantic 

Bottlenosed Dolphin Spotted Dolphin 

MAXIMUM SIZE 



8 feet to as much as 12 feet 

(2.4 to 3.7 m). 



7.5-8 feet (2.3-2.4 m) 



COLORATION 



Not spotted (old females may 
have spots on belly); dark 
gray on back; light gray on 
sides; white or pink on belly. 



Dark purplish gray on back; 
lighter gray on sides and 
belly; body becomes increas- 
ingly spotted with age. 



HEAD AND BEAK 

Head robust; beak relatively Head more slender; beak 
short. longer. 

Some Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins are distributed well 
offshore as far as the edge of the continental shelf. Those 
individuals may be confused with either rough-toothed 
dolphins (p. 135) or with grampus (p. 96). They may be 
distinguished from rough-toothed dolphins by the following: 



Atlantic Bottlenosed 
Dolphin 



Rough- Toothed Dolphin 



BODY COLOR 



Dark gray on back; light 
gray on side; white or pink on 
belly. 



Dark gray, almost purplish 
with yellow spots; lighter on 
belly. 



SNOUT 



Relatively short and stubby, 
and clearly demarcated from 
forehead; usually all gray; 
some older individuals have 
white-tipped snouts and/or 
white lips. 



Long and slender; not clearly 
demarcated from forehead; 
lower jaw and lips speckled 
white. 



See also p. 150 for use of this common name for another species, the 
harbor porpoise. 



Distinguishing differences between the Atlantic bottle- 
nosed dolphins in offshore areas and grampus are tabularized 
on p. 96. 

In northeastern South America the range of the Atlantic 
bottlenosed dolphin apparently overlaps with that of the 
Guiana dolphin, which, except for size, it closely resembles 
(see p. 132). 

Distribution 

The Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins are widely distributed 
in the temperate and tropical waters of the western North 



128 




Figure 142. — Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins leaping on the bow of a research vessel between Cape Cod, Mass. and Nova Scotia. Note the 
robust body, the falcate dorsal fin, and the gradation of color in three zones — dark gray on the back, to lighter gray on the sides, to white or 
pink on the belly. {Photo by A. Taruski) 



t 

► 





Figure 143. — A side view of the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins off St. Augustine, Fla. Note the dark grayish coloration of the back, the lighter 
coloration of the side, and the tall, sharply angled dorsal fin, pointed on the tip. Though dorsal fin shapes are highly variable, dorsal fins of 
the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin are usually more falcate and less pointed on the tip than on these animals. {Photo courtesy of Marinelarui 
of Florida.) 



129 




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130 



Atlantic. They are known from at least Nova Scotia but are 
best known from New England southward to Florida, 
westward in the Gulf of Mexico, and thence throughout the 
West Indies and Caribbean to Venezuela. 

In the northern portion of that range, Atlantic 
bottlenosed dolphins are distributed offshore. In the 
southern portions of their range from at least North Carolina 
southward, the majority are found nearshore and often enter 
bays and lagoons, and sometimes venture up the larger 
rivers. Daily migrations in these areas may follow tidal flow. 



In these same southerly areas some Atlantic bottlenosed 
dolphins are distributed as far offshore as the edge of the 
continental shelf. 

Stranded Specimens 

Within their range, stranded Atlantic bottlenosed 
dolphins should be readily identifiable by 1) the robust body, 
2) relatively short beak, and 3) the 20-26 teeth in each upper 
jaw and 18-24 in each lower jaw. 




Figure 145. -An Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin taken at Isia La Blanquilla, off Venezuela. Because they inhabit shallow waters, Atlantic bottlenosed 

dolphins are infrequent victims of strandings. {Photo courtesy ofF. Cervigon.1 



Figure 146. — Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins have from 
20 to 26 teeth in each side of the upper jaw and from 18 
to 24 in each side of the lower jaw. These teeth, sharply- 
pointed in younger animals, may wear substantially as 
the animal ages. {Photo courtesy of Wometco Miami 
Seaquarium. ) 




131 



GUIANA DOLPHIN (T) 

Sotaliaguianensis (P. -J. van Beneden 1864) 



Other Common Names 

None known. 

Description 

Guiana dolphins are the second smallest cetacean species 
in the western North Atlantic, reaching a maximum length of 
only about 5.6 feet (1.7 m). 

Their body shape is very similar to that of the Atlantic 
bottlenosed dolphin, though the beak is less clearly 
demarcated from the forehead. 

The rather prominent dorsal fin is nearly triangular, 
curving only slightly backwards near the tip. 

Guiana dolphins are steel blue to dark brown on the back 
and white on the belly. There is sometimes a brownish band 
extending from the dark color of the back in front of the dorsal 
fin back towards but not reaching the anus. 

Natural History Notes 

Guiana dolphins are usually found in groups of fewer than 
10 individuals. 

May Be Confused With 

Because of their limited range and specialized habitats, 
Guiana dolphins are unlikely to be confused with any other 
cetacean species except perhaps Atlantic bottlenosed 
dolphins (p. 128). These two species can be distinguished by 
the following characteristics: 



Guiana Dolphins 



Atlantic Bottlenosed 
Dolphins 



SIZE 



To only 5.6 feet (1.7 m). 8to as much as 12 feet (2.4 to 

3.7 m). 



DORSAL FIN 



More nearly triangular; cur- Broad- based, 
ved only slightly backwards cate. 
near tip. 

DISTRIBUTION 



tall, and fal- 



Found in rivers and estuar- 
ies, extend into only very 
shallow nearshore waters on 
limited area of South Ameri- 
can coast. 



Distribution 



Sometimes found nearshore 
and in bays, river mouths, 
and estuaries, but extend 
farther offshore. 



Guiana dolphins are found in Lake Maracaibo, in the 
rivers of Guyana, and in the nearshore coastal waters of the 
northeastern portion of the Guianas. 



Stranded Specimens 

In their very limited range, stranded Guiana dolphins can 
be readily identifed by their extremely small size (to 5.6 feet 
11.7 m]) and nearly triangular dorsal fin. Furthermore, in 
addition to the characteristics listed above distinguishing 
living Guiana dolphins from Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins, 
the species can be distinguished by differences in the 
numbers of teeth: 



Atlantic Bottlenosed 
Dolphins 



Guiana Dolphins 



TEETH 



20-26 in each upper jaw; 
18-26 in each lower jaw. 



26-35 in each jaw; often 
ragged in arrangement. 



Figure 147. — A Guiana dolphin from Kartabo, British Guiana. In the coastal portion 
of its range along the northeastern South American coast, this species is most likely 
to be confused with the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin. Guiana dolphins are much 
smaller, rarely exceeding 5.6 feet (1.7 m), have a more triangular dorsal fin, and 
tend to be found more frequently in estuaries and rivers. [Photo by A. B. Van 
Beneden from Zoologica VII H).by permitnon of the New York Zoological Society. ) 



132 





133 



a 





Figure 148. — Guiana dolphins harpooned in Kartabo. British Guiana. Guiana dolphins have from 26 to 35 teeth in each jaw. Atlantic 
bottlenosed dolphins, which are larger but somewhat similar in appearance, have from 20 to 26 teeth in each upper jaw and from 18 to 26 
in each lower jaw. (Photo by A. B. Van Beneden from Zoologies VlHi). by permisrion of the New York Zoological Society.) 



134 



ROUGH-TOOTHED DOLPHIN (T) 

Steno bredanensis (G. Cuvier in Lesson 1828) 



Other Common Names 

Rough-toothed porpoise, goggle-eyed porpoise. 
Description 

Rough toothed dolphins reach a length of at least 8 feet 
(2.4 m). The coloration of the rough-toothed dolphins is quite 
variable. Individuals are often dark gray to dark purplish 
gray on the back with pinkish-white blotches on the sides 
and belly. The flippers and flukes are dark and the belly is 
white. Individuals are frequently scarred with numerous 
white streaks. 

The most distinctive characteristic of the rough-toothed 
dolphin is its beak, which is quite long and slender, may be 
white or pinkish white along both sides, including one or both 
lips and the tip of the snout, and is not separated from the 
forehead by the transverse groove present in other long- 
snouted dolphins. Because the forehead and the sides of the 
head slope smoothly into the rostrum, when this animal is 
seen from above or from the side, its entire head appears very 
long and nearly conical. 



Natural History Notes 

Rough-toothed dolphins occur in small groups of 50 
animals or fewer and are usually found off the edge of the 
continental slope. They may ride the bow waves. 



May Be Confused With 

In their offshore habitat, rough-toothed dolphins are most 
likely to be confused with Atlantic spotted dolphins (p. 104) 
and with Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins (p. 128). They may 
be distinguished from Atlantic spotted dolphins by the 
following: 



Rough-Toothed Dolphin 



Atlantic Spotted Dolphin 



SNOUTS 



Long and slender; not clearly 
demarcated from forehead. 



Moderate in length and 
clearly demarcated from 
forehead. 




Figure 149. — Captive rough-toothed dolphins in Japan. Note the distinctive, smoothly tapering head and the white 
coloration of the sides and front of the snout. Rough-toothed dolphins are probably widely distributed in the offshore 
waters of the tropics. The streamers on the backs of the animals are marker tags (see Appendix A.) (Photo courtesy of 
Japanese Whales Research Iiutitute. ) 



135 



They may be distinguished from Atlantic bottlenosed 
dolphins by the characteristics tabularized on p. 128. 

Even at a distance the blotched coloration of the side and 
the white coloration of the rostrum of rough-toothed dolphins 
may be visible. If closer examination is possible, the 
distinctive shape and coloration of the beak make positive 
identification easy. 

Distribution 

Though records of rough-toothed dolphins from the 
western North Atlantic are scant, the species is assumed to 
be widely distributed in deep tropical to warm temperate 



waters. It has been reported from Virginia, Georgia, Florida, 
the Gulf of Mexico, the West Indies, and off the northeastern 
coast of South America. 

Stranded Specimens 

In addition to the characteristics listed above for 
distinguishing living animals, stranded rough-toothed 
dolphins can be readily identified by the fact that the 20-27 
fairly large teeth per jaw per side have a series of fine vertical 
wrinkles on the crown, a characteristic from which the 
species derives its common name. (These wrinkles are often 
difficult to detect.) 




Figure 150.— Closeups of the highly distinctive head of a 
rough-toothed dolphin showing the white lips and the lack 
of a clear demarcation between the snout and the forehead. 
This species has from 20 to 27 fairly large teeth in each side 
of both the upper and lower jaws. (Photos at Sea Life 
Park, Hawaii, byK. C. Baicomb [top] and S. Leatherwood 
[bottom].) 








136 



-f* I 





Figure 151. — A rough-toothed dolphin stranded near New Smyrna Beach, Fla. 1 his species has from <20 to 27 fairly large teeth in each side of both the upper 
and lower jaws. Those teeth are sometimes marked by many fine vertical wrinkles along the crown, a characteristic from which the species derives its 
common name. {Photos by D. K. CaldweU.) 



137 



PYGMY KILLER WHALE (T) 

Feresa attenuata Gray 1874 



Other Common Names 

Slender blackfish, slender pilot whale. 

Description 

Pygmy killer whales reach a length of about 8-9 feet 
(2.4-2.7 m). They are usually relatively slender-bodied with a 
rounded head, an underslung jaw, and no beak. 

The falcate dorsal fin, located about the center of the back, 
is usually between 8 and 12 inches (20.3 and 30.1 cm) tall 
(though it may reach 15 inches [38 cm] in some individuals), is 
sometimes very distinctive, and resembles that of the 
Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin. The flippers are slightly 
rounded on the tips. 

The color has been described as dark gray or black on the 
back, often lighter on the sides, extending higher in front of 
the dorsal; fin and with a small zone of white on the 
underside, often a lighter gray area on the sides, and 
distinctive white regions around the lips. The chin may be 
completely white. This white zone on the chin, described as 
a "goatee," is often clearly visible in swimming animals. 

May Be Confused With 

The pygmy killer whale resembles the false killer whale 
but is much smaller and can be distinguished at close range by 
the zones of white coloration. False killer whales are almost 
all black and reach a length of up to at least 18 feet (5.5 m). 
Pygmy killer whales are dark gray on the back, often lighter 
on the sides, and show a region of white on the belly which 
may extend so high up onto the sides that it is visible on a 
swimming animal. Further, they reach only 8-9 feet (2.4- 
2.7 m). 

Pygmy killer whales may also be confused with the 
similarly sized and colored many-toothed blackfish. So little is 
known of the two species' appearance and behavior at sea that 
it is doubtful that they can be successfully distinguished, 
though many-toothed blackfish apparently lack the white 
region often seen on the sides of pygmy killer whales. 
Further, pygmy killer whales have rounded flippers and 
smoothly tapered heads, while those of the many-toothed 



blackfish are pointed on the tip and more sharpely pointed 
(often described as a parrot beak). 

Distribution 

Pygmy killer whales are probably distributed in the 
tropical and subtropical waters of the western North 
Atlantic. They have been reported from Texas, the Atlantic 
coast of Florida, and St. Vincent Island, Lesser Antilles. 
Records of the species from the other oceans of the world 
suggest that its distribution is limited to tropical and 
subtropical waters. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded pygmy killer whales can be clearly distinguish- 
ed from both the false killer whale and the many toothed 
blackfish. In addition to the differences discussed above, the 
following are key differences between the pygmy and false 
killer whales: 



Pygmy Killer Whale 



False KiUer Whale 



TEETH 



10-13 in each side of upper 
and lower jaws; lower teeth 
smaller. 



8-11 per jaw 
prominent. 



per 



side. 



VENTRAL COLORATION 



White from anus to under tail 
stock, white may extend up 
sides. 



Dark from anus to tail stock; 
lighter pale gray area for- 
ward between flippers. 



FLIPPERS 



Smoothly rounded. 



Characteristic hump on for- 
ward margin. 



Pygmy killer whales can be distinguished from many- 
toothed blackfish on the basis of the second species" larger 
number of teeth. (Many-toothed blackfish have from 22 to 25 
teeth in the upper jaw and from 21 to 24 in the lower jaw.) 



Figure 152. — Pygmy killer whales at sea northwest of Hawaii (top) off the island of 
Oahu, Hawaii (middle), and from southeastern Florida in the tank at the W'ometco 
Miami Seaquarium (bottom). When swimming rapidly, pygmy killer whales may 
closely resemble the much larger false killer whales. In addition to their much smaller 
size, rarely exceeding 9 feet (2.7 m), however, pygmy killer whales can be 
distinguished by their more rounded head, the white coloration of the lips and chin, and 
the white zone on the belly, sometimes extending up the sides. [Photos by S. Ohsumi 
[top]; J. Naughton, Natvoruil Marine Fisheries Service and courtesy of E. Shallenberger, 
Sea Life Park \middle]: and courtesy of Wometco Miami Seaquarium [bottom].) 



138 




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139 




' \\j\0r 



SMft 




Figure 153. — Pygmy killer whales 5 miles off Kaena Point, Oahu. Hawaii. These individuals were dark on the back with varying degrees of Ughter 
coloration on the sides, extending high onto the sides in front of the dorsal fin. Many had a white "goatee" on the chin and lower jaw. The prominent dorsal 
fin is characteristic. {Photos by E. ShaUenberger, courtesy of Sea Life Park, Hawaii) 



140 





Figure 154. — Side and belly viewsof a pygmy killer whale from South Africa. Note the slight white coloration of the lips, the white region on the 
ventral surface (extending up onto the sides just below the dorsal fin), and the falcate sharply pointed dorsal fin. Note also the flippers, which 
lack the hump on the forward margin characteristic of false killer whales. {Photos courtesy of P. B. Best.) 



Figure 155. — Pygmy killer whales have from 8 to 1 1 teeth in each side of 
the upper jaw and from 11 to 13 in each side of the lower jaw. Many 
specimens reportedly have one fewer on the right than on the left side. 
The teeth are smaller than those of the false killer whale and far less 
numerous than those of the more closely sized many-toothed blackfish. 
Note also the white lips. {Photo courtesy of P. B. Best.) 




141 



MANY-TOOTHED BLACKFISH (T) 

Peponocephala electra (Gray 1846) 



Other Common Names 

Hawaiian blackfish, melon-headed whale. 

Description 

Many-toothed blackfish reach lengths of at least 9 feet (2.7 
m) and are similar in body shape to the larger false killer 
whale and the similar-sized pygmy killer whale. The body is 
elongated and slim with a rather slim tail stock. In general, 
the head is shaped like that of the false killer whale but has a 
sharper appearance to the snout, sometimes described as 
a parrot- beak. The forehead is rounded, slightly overhanging 
the lower jaw, and has no beak. The dorsal fin is up to 10 
inches (25.4 cm). It is probably very distinctive as the animals 
surface to breathe. Many-toothed blackfish are black on the 
back and slightly lighter on the belly. The areas around the 
anus and genitals and the lips are unpigmented. Many- 
toothed blackfish are presumably rare. 

May Be Confused With 

Many-toothed blackfish may be confused with either the 
false killer whale or the pygmy killer whale. They are 
considerably smaller than the false killer whale, have a 
slightly more pointed snout, and lack the prominent humplike 



forward margin on the flippers which is characteristic of the 
false killer whale. 

They are approximately the same size as pygmy killer 
whales, but the white area around the genitals which extends 
up onto the side in pygmy killer whales may be lacking in 
many-toothed blackfish. This species has pointed flippers, 
while those of pygmy killer whales are rounded on the tips. 
Many-toothed blackfish also have a slightly more pointed 
snout. Otherwise, the two species are virtually indistinguish- 
able in encounters at sea. 

Distribution 

Although many-toothed blackfish have not yet been 
reported in the western North Atlantic, they are included 
in this guide because of a record from the eastern tropical 
North Atlantic and the known tropical distribution in 
other areas. 

Stranded Specimens 

Stranded many-toothed blackfish can be distinguished 
from false killer and pygmy killer whales by the number of 
teeth alone. Many-toothed blackfish have more than 1.5 per 
side per jaw (usually 21-25); both other species have 
less than 15. 





Figure 156. — A live many-toothed blackfish in a holding pen 
in the Philippines. At sea these animals will be virtually 
impossible to distinguish from pygmy killer whales. [Photos 
by T. Hammond.) 







142 




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143 



PYGMY SPERM WHALE (T) 

Kogia breviceps (Blainville 1838) 



Other Common Names 

None known. 

Description 

Pygmy sperm whales reach a length of at least 11 feet (3.4 
m). They are characterized by 1) an extremely robust body 
that rapidly tapers near the tail, 2) a squarish head, and 3) a 
narrow, underslung lower jaw which is located well behind 
the tip of the snout. Along the side of the head, in 
approximately the same position where gill slits would be 
located on a fish of comparable size, there is a crescent- 
shaped bracket mark, often called a false gill. 

The flippers, which are smoothly curved on the forward 
margin and may reach a length of 18 inches (45.7 cm) or more 
on an adult specimen, are located well forward on the body, 
just below and behind the bracket mark. 

The dorsal fin is very small, falcate, and located in the 
latter half of the back. 

Though coloration can be described only from stranded 
specimens and a few encounters with living animals, pygmy 
sperm whales appear to be dark steel gray on the back, 
shading to a lighter gray on the sides, and gradually fading to 
a dull white on the belly. The outer surface of the flippers and 
the upper surface of the tail flukes are also steel gray. 



Natural History Notes 

From the few accounts, the following may be summarized 
about the behavior of pygmy sperm whales at sea: They 
reportedly usually rise slowly to the surface to breathe, 
produce a blow that is inconspicuous, and do not normally roll 
aggressively at the surface like most other species of small 
whales. They reportedly fold their flippers flat against their 
bodies when swimming. They have been reported to lie 
motionless in the water with the back of the head on the 
surface and the tail hanging loosely down in the water. (A 
similar behavior in sperm whales has made them a minor 
hazard to shipping, since it has resulted in some collisions 
with ships. ) When they are startled in this posture, they may 
defecate, issuing a cloud of reddish brown to rust-colored 
fece. Beached pygmy sperm whales have also been observed 
to defecate a fine chocolate feces. 

Pygmy sperm whales apparently feed primarily on squid, 
but do take fish as well. 



the name implies, have elongated "dolphinlike" beaks and are 
considerably larger. At sea, pygmy sperm whales are most 
likely to be confused with their cousins the dwarf sperm 
whales (p. 148 and Fig. 160). The two species can be dis- 
tinguished as follows: 



Pygmy Sperm Whale 



Dwarf Sperm Whale 



To 11 feet (3.4 m) 



MAXIMUM SIZE 

To 9 feet (2.7 m) 

DORSAL FIN 



Small to 8 inches (20.3 cm), 
falcate; located in latter third 
of back. 



Taller, more like that of 
bottlenosed dolphins; locat- 
ed near the midpoint of the 
back. 



COLORATION 

Both species are dark steel g^ay on the back, grading to 
lighter on the belly. 



Distribution 

Because they have been rarely observed at sea, normal 
ranges for this species are not known. Based on stranding 
records, however, the following can be stated. In the western 
North Atlantic, pygmy sperm whales have been found as far 
north as Sable Island, Halifax, Nova Scotia, as far south as 
Cuba, and as far west as Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. They are 
frequently found stranded along the Atlantic coast of Florida 
and throughout the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico. 

Stranded Specimens 

Because of the distinctive characters of the genus, 
stranded pygmy and dwarf sperm whales are unlikely to be 
confused with any other species of cetacean, though the 
rather narrow underslung jaw and the blunted head may 
result in their casual dismissal by some beach walkers as 
stranded sharks. The two species of Kogia may be 
distinguished by the following: 



Pygmy Sperm Whale 



Dwarf Sperm Whale 



May Be Confused With 

In general, when they can be examined at close range, 
pygmy sperm whales are so distinctive that they are unlikely 
to be confused with any other species except perhaps the 
dwarf sperm whales. At a distance, they might be confused 
with small individuals of any of the beaked-whale species 
(p. 78) that also have a relatively small, falcate dorsal fin 
located in the latter third of the back. Closer examination 
should permit easy separation, however, since the pygmy 
sperm whale has a blunted head, while the beaked whales, as 



TEETH 



12-16 (rarely 10-11) in lower 
jaw are larger; no teeth in 
upper. 



8-11 (rarely 13) small and 
extremely sharp teeth in 
lower jaw; sometimes have 
up to 3 teeth in each upper 
jaw. 



THROAT 



No creases or grooves on 
throat. 



Several short irregular creas- 
es or grooves on throat. 



144 



>^fc* ■*<>■ 




Figure 158. — In this rare photograph of a pygmy sperm whale at sea in the Pacific, the animal 
was startled by the approaching vessel, circled quickly, and then dived out of sight. The trail 
of material visible in the water in front of and to the right of the animal is feces, reddish brown 
to rust in color. Startled whales and porpoises often defecate in this manner. (Photo by S. 
Ohtumi ) 




Figure 159. — A young pygmy sperm whale swimming in a tank at the New York Aquarium. Note the shape and position of the dorsal fin and the shape of the 

head. (Photo by H. E. Winn.) 



145 



» "^J » "»^ 






f-«^ f^i v^*^ r"*-! r"*^T r^" 
^^i F^^n f"^ r"^^ ?^*%Tj ^^ 
r'^i v"^ r"^ T"^ T"^ V" 
r-^ r*""^ v^i r'^^ej r''^j r 
f^'i r'^ ^!3 ^^ r''^ -" 




5: *¥!i J?'"^ -S^,*;:'?' .-i'JSii.*? 



Figure 160. -On the beach the two species of Xoffia can be readily distinguished. The pygmy sperm whale. K. breviceps, (top) reaches a length of about 
11 feet (3.4 m); its dorsal fin is a small nubbin located in the latter half of the back. The dwarf sperm whale, K. txmua, (bottom) reaches only about 9 feet 
(2.7 m); its dorsal fin, much taller and more "dolphinlike" in appearance, is located near the middle of the back. Coloration of fresh specimens is probably 
similar for both species— the lightened areas in the lower photograph are the result of decomposition. {Photos from Jekyll Island, Go. [top] arui Atlantic 
Beach, Fla. [bottom] by D. K. CaldwelL). 




Figure 161. — Ventral view of a female pygmy sperm whale from Jekyll Island. Ga. Note the position and shape of the flippers and mouth, and the abrupt 

Upering of the body at the tail stock. {Photo by D. K. CaldwelL) 



146 




Figure 162. — Head of a pygmy sperm whale from northeastern Florida showing gill-like, lightly 
pigmented "bracket marks." {Photo by F. G. Wood. ) 



Figure 163. — A detafled view of the mouth of a pygmy sperm whale from 
the east coast of Florida. In both species of Kogia these long, curved, 
needle-sharp teeth, found in only the lower jaw, lock into sockets in the 
upper jaw. Pygmy sperm whales have from 12 to 16 (rarely 10 or 11) pairs 
of teeth; dwarf sperm whales have from 8 to 11 (rarely 13) pairs. (Photo 
byD. K. CaldwelL) 




147 



DWARF SPERM WHALE (T) 



Kogiasimus (Owen 1866) 



Other Common Names 

Rat porpoise (West Indies). 

Description 

Dwarf sperm whales reach an overall length of 
approximately 9 feet (2.7 m). Like the other species oiKogia. 
the pygmy sperm whale (p. 144), the dwarf sperm whales are 
characterized by 1) a squarish head, 2) an extremely robust 
body which tapers rapidly near the tail stock, 3) a narrow, 
underslung lower jaw, and 4) a bracket mark or false gill on 
the side of the head. 

The dorsal fin of this species is tall and falcate, closely 
resembling that of the Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin, and is 
located near the midpoint of the back. There are several 
short, irregular creases or grooves on the throat similar to 
those found on the sperm whale (see Figs. 60, 165). 

Dwarf sperm whales are dark steel gray on the back, 
grading to lighter gray on the sides, and fading to dull white 
on the belly. 

May Be Confused With 

Because of their tall, falcate dorsal fin, dwarf sperm 
whales may be confused at a distance with any of the small 



dolphin species. Their all-black or dark steel-gray coloration 
and the blunted head increase the likelihood that they can be 
confused with pygmy killer whales or many-toothed 
blackf ish . They will have to be examined at close range before 
they can be distinguished. 

Dwarf sperm whales may also be confused with pygmy 
sperm whales (p. 144 and Fig. 160). The two species can 
be differentiated by the characteristics tabularized on p. 144. 

Distribution 

Since it has only recently been recognized as a species 
distinct from the pygmy sperm whale and even more recently 
given a common name, records of dwarf sperm whales may 
have been confused with those of its close relatives. The 
dwarf sperm whale has been reported from at least Georgia 
south to St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles, and throughout the 
eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico. It is highly likely that 
this species, like the pygmy sperm whale, extends further to 
the north. 

Stranded Specimens 

Because of the distinctive characteristics of the genus, 
neither species of stranded Kogia is likely to be confused with 
any other species. They can be distinguished from one 
another by the characteristics tabularized on p. 144. 




Figure 164.-A dwari sperm whale stranded near St. Augustine, Fla., shown swimming in the Unk at Marineland of Florida. In this species 
the dorsal fin is taller than that of the pygmy sperm whale and is located near the midpoint of the back (see Figs. 159 and 160). 
(Pkoto courtesy of Marineland of Florida. ) 



148 



r 



Figure 165. — Dwarf sperm whales have several 
short creases on the throat, similar to those 
found on the sperm whale (see Fig. 60); pygmy 
sperm whales lack these creases. To compare 
other features of the two species, refer back to 
Figure 160. (Photo by D. K. Caldwell) 





Figure 166. — Closeup of the tail flukes of a 
dwarf sperm whale from the Florida east coast. 
Note that the dorsal ridge extends ahnost to 
the notch in the flukes. (Photo by W. A. Buck, 
courtesy of MarmeUmd of Florida. ) 



149 



HARBOR PORPOISE (T) 

Phocoenaphocoetm (Linnaeus 1758) 



Other Common Names 



Common porpoise, herring hog, puffing pig (Newfound- 
land and New England), Pourcils (Quebec), harbour porpoise. 

Description 

The harbor porpoise is the smallest cetacean species in the 
western North Atlantic Ocean, reaching a maximum overall 



length of about 5 feet (1.5 m). Its most distinctive identifying 
features in encounters at sea are 1 ) the small, chunky body; 2) 
the coloration, dark brown or gray on the back, fading to 
lighter grayish brown on the sides, often with speckling in the 
transition zone, and white on the belly extending farther up 
on the sides in front of the dorsal fin; 3) the small round- 
ed head, lacking a distinctive beak; 4) the small, tri- 
angular dorsal fin; and 5) the shallow, inshore northerly 
distribution. 




Figurel67. — Two views of a harbor porpoise just offshore from Rio del Mar, Seaside, Calif. Note the small size (usually less than 5 feet [1.5 m] ), the small 
triangular dorsal fin, the dark brownish color of the back, and the lighter color of the sides and belly intruding higher up in front of the dorsal fin. Harbor 
porpoises frequent inshore areas, shallow bays, estuaries and harbors, and reportedly do not approach moving vessels nor ride bow waves. {Photos by J. 
D.HaU.) 



150 



Natural History Notes 

As the name implies, the harbor porpoise inhabits bays, 
harbors, river mouths, and all the relatively shallow inshore 
water between. Though it may travel in schools of nearly a 
hundred individuals, it is more often seen in pairs or in small 
groups of from 5 to 10 individuals. It often swims quietly at 
the surface. It will not ride the bow wave and is very difficult 
to approach closely by boat. 



May Be Confused With 

The harbor porpoise is not known to associate with 
dolphins but is sometimes seen in close proximity to fin 
whalesandhumpback whales off the Canadian coast in spring 
and summer. Because of its northern inshore habitat, the 



harbor porpoise is not likely to be confused with any other 
cetacean. 

Distribution 

Harbor porpoises are restricted to the colder waters of the 
western North Atlantic Ocean. They have been reported 
from North Carolina north to the Davis Straits and the waters 
of southwestern Greenland. Within this range they are 
probably most common in the Bay of Fundy and off southwest 
Greenland. 

Stranded Specimens 

In addition to the characteristics described above for 
living animals, stranded harbor porpoises can be readily 
identified by the small spade-shaped teeth, 22-28 per jaw. 




Figure 168. — A harbor porpoise harpooned in Passamaquoddy Bay, New Bnu8wick. Harbor porpoises have from 23 to 28 small, spade-shaped teeth 
ineachupperjawandfrom22 to26ineachlower jaw. Note the rounded head, the absence of a beak, and the triangular dorsal fin. iPhoto by D. E. 
Gatkm.) 



151 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

Obviously this guide could not have been produced 
without the cooperation of many people. Of over 450 
individuals and scientific organizations contacted in 14 
countries, 255 responded to our letters and well over 100 
provided photographs for review and selection. We were par- 
ticularly pleased that for the majority of the species found in 
the western North Atlantic our most difficult problem was 
narrowing the choices and ultimately selecting illustrations 
from the many good materials made available to us. Although 
there are far too many contributors to mention all by name, 
their prompt and enthusiastic responses to requests for help 
are gratefully acknowledged, whether or not their materials 
were used. 

Although photo credits follow each figure, we would 
particularly like to cite the generosity of Marineland of 
Florida, Hideo Omura of the Japanese Whales Research 
Institute, J.G. Mead of the U.S. National Museum, K.C. 
Balcomb of Moclips Cetological Society, Seiji Ohsumi of the 
Far Seas Fisheries Research I^aboratory, Jack Lentfer of the 
Alaskan Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Naval 
Undersea Center (NUC), The University of Rhode Island, 
and William F. Perrin of the National Marine Fisheries 
Service (NMFS). Photographs by Taruski, McCann, Hain, 
Wheeler, and Rigley are in Winn's files. All others are in the 
files of Leatherwood and Caldwell. The illustrations for 
Figures Bl and Dl were prepared by George Galich of NUC. 
All other illustrations were prepared by Lois Winn. 

The extensive and often tedious job of preparing black and 
white photographs of suitable format from the vast array of 
black and white and color negatives and prints and from color 
transparencies was accomplished at the NUC Photographic 
Laboratory by the able team of Domingo Sanchez, Ray 
Krenik, Jeanne Lucas, and Alan McPhee. 

George E. Lingle and John C. Moore assisted with 
gathering and reviewing the literature and with cataloging 
and screening photo materials. 

The various drafts of the manuscript were typed by Linda 
Thomson, Margaret Alvarez, and Sandra Nolan. Sandra 
Peterson assisted with proofreading the later drafts. 

In preparing this guide we drew freely from the literature 
on cetaceans of this region and supplemented it with our own 
observations and with unpublished notes provided by our 
colleagues. A partial list of materials used, each a good 
source of reference material on cetaceans in general or on 
cetaceans of the western North Atlantic in particular, is 
provided in the following section, "Selected Biblio- 
graphy." 

All of the following colleagues read all or part of the 
manuscript and made useful suggestions for its improve- 
ment: K.C. Balcomb, W.C. Cummings, J.G. Mead, Hideo 
Omura, W.F. Perrin, F.K. Rodgers. Allen N. Saltzman, D.E. 
Sergeant, W.A. Watkins, A. A. Wolman, and F.G.Wood. 

All of the information and photographs contributed by 
Lois Winn were obtained under grants from the Office of 
Naval Research. Funds and assistance for the preparation of 
intermediated drafts and logistics support for all stages of 
preparation of this guide were provided by Biological Sys- 
tems, Inc., St. Augustine, Fla. 

In addition to securing funds for the preparation and 
publication of this guide, Paul Sund, Platforms of Oppor- 



tunity Program, NMFS, Tiburon, Calif., provided continuing 
help and criticism. 

To these and to all who use this guide to further help 
knowledge about the cetaceans of the western North 
Atlantic, we are grateful. 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

ANDERSEN. H. T. (editor). 

1969. The biology of marine mammals. Academic Press, N.Y.. 511 

P- 
BURT, W. H. 

1952. A field guide to the mammals. Houghton Mifflin Co.. Boston, 

200 p. 
CALDWELL, D.K., and M. C. CALDWELL. 

1973. Marine mammalsof the eastern Gulf of Mexico, /n J. I. Jones, 

R. E. Ring, M. 0. Rinkel, and R. E. Smith (editors), A summary of 

knowledge of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, p. IIM-l — 1II-I-23. 

State Univ. Syst. Fla. Inst. Oceanogr., St. Petersburg, Fla. 
CALDWELL, D. K., and F. B. GOLLEY. 

1965. Marine mammals from the coast of Georgia to Cape Hatteras. 
J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. 81:24-32. 

CALDWELL, D.K.. H. NEUHAUSER. M.C. CALDWELL, and H. W. 
COOLIDGE. 

1971. Recent records of marine mammals from the coasts of Geor 
gia and South Carolina. Cetology 5:1-12. 
FRASER, F. C. 

1937. Whales and dolphins. In J. R. Norman and F. C. Fraser, 
Giant fishes, whales and dolphins, p. 201-349. Putnam and Sons, 
Lond. (There are several editions of this work, all with the same 
information.] 

1966. Guide for the identification and reporting of stranded whales, 
dolphins and porpoises on the British coasts. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist., 
Lond., 34 p. 

GOLLEY, F. B. 

1966. South Carolina mammals. The Charleston Museum, Charles- 
ton, S.C.. xiv + 181 p. 
GUNTER, G. 

1954. Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico. In P. S. Galtsoff (coordina 
tori.Gulf of Mexico, its origin, waters, and marine life, p. 543-567. 
U.S. Fish WUdl. Serv., Fish. BuU. Vol. 55. 
HALL. E. R., and K. R. KELSON. 

1959. Order cetacea — cetaceans. In The mammals of North 
America. 2:806-840. Ronald Press, N.Y. 
HERSHKOVITZ. P. 

1966. Catalog of living whales. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 246, 259 p. 
KELLOGG, R. 

1940. Whales, giants of the sea. Natl. Geogr. Mag. 77:35-90. 
LAYNE, J. N. 

1965. Observations on marine mammals in Florida waters. Bull. 
Fla. State Mus., Biol. Sci. 9:131-181. 

LEATHERWOOD, S., W. E. EVANS, and D. W. RICE. 

1972. The whales, dolphins, and porpoises of the eastern north 
Pacific. A guide to their identification in the water. Nav. Under- 
seas Cent., Tech. Publ. 282, 175 p. 

LOWERY, G. H., JR. 

1974. Themammalsof Louisiana and its adjacent waters. Louisiana 
State Univ. Press, Baton Rouge, 565 p. 
MITCHELL, E. D. 

1973. The status of the worid's whales. Nat. Can. 2(4):9 25. 
MOORE, J. C. 

1953. Distributionof marine mammals to Florida waters. Am. Midi. 
Nat. 49:117 158. 

NORRIS, K. S. (editor). 

1966. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Univ. California Press, 
Berkeley, 789 p. 

PALMER, R. S. 

1954. The mammal guide. Doubleday and Co., N.Y., 384 p. 



152 



RICE. D. W. 

1967. Cetaceans. In S. Anderson and J. K. Jones (editors), Recent 
mammals of the world; a synopsis of families, p. 291-324. The 
Ronald Press. N.Y. 

RICE. D. W.. and V. B. SCHEFFER. 

1968. A list of the marine mammals of the world. U.S. Fish Wildl. 
Serv., Spec. Sci. Rep. Fish. 579, 16 p. 

RIDGEWAY, S. H. (editor). 

1972. Mammals of the sea; biology and medicine. Charles C. 
Thomas, Springfield, 111., xiii + 812 p. 
SCHEVILL. W. E. 

1974. The whale problem. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 
Mass.. 297 p. 
SERGEANT, D. E.. and H. D. FISHER. 

1957. The smaller Cetacea of eastern Canadian waters. J. Fish. 
Res. Board Can. 14:83115. 
SERGEANT, D. E., A. W. MANSFIELD, and B. BECK. 

1970. Inshore records of Cetacea of eastern Canada, 1949-68. J. 
Fish. Res. Board Can. 27:1903-1915. 



SLIJPER. E. J. 

1962. Whales. Hutchinson and Co.. 
also an American edition.! 



Ltd., Lond., 475 p. (There is 



TOMILIN. A. G. 

1967. Cetacea. Mammals of the U.S.S.R. and adjacent countries. 
Isr. Program Sci. Transl.. Jerusalem, Vol. IX. 717 p. |A 
compilation of worldwide data, originally published in Russian.] 

TOWNSEND. C. H. 

1935. The distribution of certain whales as shown by logbook records 
of American whaleships. Zoologica (N.Y.) 19:1-50. 

TRUE, F. W. 

1889. Contributions to the natural history of the cetaceans, a review 
of the family Delphinidae. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 36:1-192. 

WALKER, E. P. 

1964. Mammalsof the world. The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 
p. 1083 1145. ICetaceans. There is also a second, revised edition 
of this work, and a third, revised edition is planned.] 



153 



APPENDIX A 
TAGS ON WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND PORPOISES 



Field studies of cetaceans are very difficult. First, it is 
extremely hard to be positive that an individual or a group of 
animals is the same from one encounter to the next. This 
means that it is nearly impossible to determine, for example, 
whether herds of animals are resident in an area or only 
seasonal visitors. Without information of this kind, 
determinations vital to population management, such as sizes 
of populations and natural ranges, are impossible to make. 

Secondly, as we frequently point out in this guide, 
individual cetaceans are usually visible to a surface observer 
only during the brief moments when they break the air- water 
interface to breathe. The majority of their vital activities 
(e.g., feeding, reproduction, communication, establishing 
and maintaining position within the herd, and defending 
against natural enemies) take place primarily below the 
surface, well out of view to a surface observer. 

In recent years, in an attempt to overcome some of these 
problems, scientists have been placing markers on various 
species of cetaceans and monitoring their movements. The 
following brief summary of major methods of tagging 
cetaceans is provided to acquaint the reader with markers he 
may expect to see in the western North Atlantic. 

Static Tags 

Since their development in the mid-1920's, numerous 
Discovery marks (small stainless steel projectiles with 
identifying information stamped on them) have been shot into 
commercially valuable species by means of a shotgun. The 
recovery of these marks from whales subsequently killed in 
the whaling industry has provided valuable information on 
the movement patterns and on basic aspects of the growth 
and development of harvested species of whales. Discovery 
marks are limited, however, because they are not visible in a 
living animal. Reduction in whaling activities will bring about 
a significant reduction in their use. 

More recent tagging developments relate to marks which 
will be visible on a free-swimming animal. Large whales, for 
instance, may be tagged with color-coded streamers, such as 
that shown in Appendix Figure A2. The tags, which are 
modified versions of the spaghetti tags first constructed for 
use on fishes, consist of a small stainless steel head for 
attachment to the blubber and a colorful streamer ( sometimes 
stamped with information on agencies to which tags should 
be returned) which is visible above the surface of the animal. 
These tags may be applied by using either a pole applicator or 
a crossbow and crossbow bolts. Both applicators are equipped 
with a stop to limit the depth of penetration into the animal's 
blubber. Extensive experimentation indicates that the tags 
do not harm the animals and that their application is not 
traumatic. With the continued reduction in whaling activity, 
it is hoped that the use of such markers in the study of 
movements of big whales will be increased. 

Because they often ride the bow wave of a moving vessel, 
thereby making themselve accessible for tagging and 
capture, small porpoises and dolphins have been tagged with 
a greater variety of marks than large whales. In recent years, 
at least three kinds of static tags, including spaghetti 




|i ^ ni, u| i H | lii i iH|, li| iiy ill l lrl| U lillljr ll| ll l |l ll |iil| iii| l n| iil| l i yin | u i| l li|l » ^ 



Appendix Figure Al. — Some of the basic kinds of tags used to mark 
porpoises, dolpliins, and small whales. A, B, and C are nylon button tags, 
which are placed in the dorsal fin of animals and may be clearly visible as 
the animal surfaces to breathe. D is a vinyl spaghetti tag. {Photo by R. 
Krenic, courtesy of Naval Undersea Center.) 



streamers, have been placed on small and medium-sized 
cetaceans. 

Spaghetti tags, placed in the animal's blubber near the 
base of the dorsal fin as it rides the bow wave, stream to 
conform to the contour of the animal's body as it swims ( App. 
Fig. A3). It is not possible to identify the numbers on the 
spaghetti tag of a moving animal, although color codes may be 
used to indicate different species, populations, or tagging 
areas. 

Button tags and freeze brands are placed on captured 
animals prior to their release. The button tags (App. Figs. 
A4, A5) are placed in the dorsal fin and should be visible as the 
animal surfaces to breathe or as it rides the bow wave. At 
close range, the number, letter, or design may also be visible. 
Freeze brands (App. Fig. A6) are placed on the back or dorsal 
fin with a supercooled branding iron, apparently without pain 
or discomfort to the animal, and provide a permanent mark 
which leaves the tagged animal free of encumbrances. The 
use of freeze brands shows promise and should come into 
more extensive use. 

Other static tagging techniques currently under 
investigation include the use of laser beams to apply small 



154 



Appendix Fi^re A2. — A spaghetti tag in the 
back of a blue whale off San Clemente Island, 
Calif. {Photo by S. Leatherwood. ) 




■ ^ 




'♦^■ WDjUW . . 



Appendix Fwure A3 - A spaghetti tag in the flank of a bottlenosed dolphin off Loreto, Baja California, Mexico. This particular Ug was pbced 

=,iLtes't:rr^ri;r.:rrri:r^^^^^^^^^ 



155 




'^iftll. 




4 



Appendix Figure A4. — A button tag placed on the dorsal fin of a newly captured saddleback dolphin off Catalina Island, Calif. 

{Photo by W. E. Evans.) 



iummmt ■■ 




Appendix Figure A5.— This is the way the botton tag appears on an 
animal swimming free in the open sea off Palos Verdes, Calif. (Photo by 
B. Noble, courteiy of Marineland of the Pacific. ) 



brands and the use of gas branding devices. Neither 
itechnique, however, has yet reached the field biolog^ist. 

The success of any tagging program using static tags 
depends on the resighting of tagged animals and the recovery 
of tags. For that reason, we appeal to readers to be on the 




Appendix Figure A6. — Freeze-branding is an apparently painless 
method of applying a permanent identifying mark to the body of a 
porpoise or whale. (PAoto of a bottlenoied dolphin offSaraiota, Flo., by 
A. B. Irvine.) 

lookout for tagged animals and to report sightings to one of 
the authors. 

Radio Transmitter Tags 

In recent years, radio transmitter tags have been 
developed for use on marine mammals. As they continue to 
become more reliable, these tags are expected to come into 
more and more widespread use. 

Early radio tags (Fig. A7) were simple locator beacons 
which permitted the animal to be tracked by sending a signal 
to a tracking vessel or aircraft every time the animal surfaced 
and the antenna tip was exposed. Even these basic package.^ 



156 




Appendix Figure A7. — A saddleback dolphin wearing a radio tag 
transmitter surfaces to breathe oH southern California. {Photo courtesy 
ofW. E. Evam.) 



provide important information on movement, activity 
patterns, and respiration rates. 

Subsequent developments have involved the addition of 
sensors to monitor the maximum depth of each dive and 
environmental parameters such as the water temperature at 
that depth (Fig. A8). 

Logical extensions of these developments include the 
addition of numerous other sensors to permit simultaneous 
monitoring of multiple aspects of the animal's environment 
and the transmission of these data first to aircraft and 
subsequently to satellites for relay to shore-based 
laboratories. 

In addition to permitting scientists to define movement 
patterns and daily diving patterns of cetaceans, the use of 
such devices offers an exciting means of determining the 
environmental parameters that trigger changes in their 
behavior. 

Radio transmitter tags, in a variety of configurations, 
may be constructed and attached for short-term studies or for 
long-term monitoring of migrating animals. In either case, 
depending on their size and methods of attachment, radio 




Appendix Figure A8. — A radio transmitter package attached to the dorsal ridge of a California gray whale. This yearling animal, captive for most of the 
first year of its life, was released into the ocean off San Diego, Calif., in March 1972 and subsequently tracked from shipboard and aircraft for over 30 days. 
The sensor transmitter package, shown in detail in the inset, was designed to measure the maximum depth of the animal's dive and the water temperature 
at that depth. (Photo by S. Leatherwood.) 



157 



transmitter tags may be visible on a free-swimming animal 
even at a considerable distance. 

Natural Markings 

In addition to these man-made and applied tags, 
variations in natural markings and unusual appearances may 
be used to identify individuals and herds on repeated 
encounters. Although many species of cetaceans are 
characterized by changes in color pattern with age, 
individuals occasionally differ radically in their coloration 
from their fellows (App. Figs. A9, AlO). In addition, individ- 



uals are sometimes seen with unusually shaped dorsal fins or 
scarring patterns (App. Fig. All). These usually marked 
animals should stand out in repeated encounters and can be a 
help in identifying a herd from one encounter to another. 

Obviously, this list of tags and anomalous markings is not 
exhaustive. New marks may be developed at any time. The 
discussion is intended to make the reader aware of the value 
of information on natural or man-made marks in studies of 
cetacean natural history. Your cooperation will perhaps help 
us to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the 
distribution and movements of porpoises, dolphins, and 
whales. 




Appendix Figure A9. — A piebald saddleback dolphin on the bow of a research vessel off San Clemente Island, Calif. (Photo by B. C. Parks.) 



158 




Appendix Figure AlO. — A nearly all-white pilot whale seen off Catalina Island, Calif. , in April 1971 . The observation of this same animal 
at least once each quarter of the year is evidence that it is resident in that area. {Photo by S. Leatherwood.) 




Appendix Figure All. — A herd of pilot whales off Catalina Island, Calif., including an animal with a partially chopped-off dorsal fin, which has made 
him recognizable in repeated encounters with pilot whales around the various channel islands. {Photo by G. E. Ldngle. ) 



159 



APPENDIX B 
RECORDING AND REPORTING OBSERVATIONS OF CETACEANS AT SEA 



To increase reliability of identifications, observers should 
train themselves to ask the following kinds of questions each 
time cetaceans are encountered: 

1. How large was the animal? 

2. Did it have a dorsal fin? If so, what was its size, shape, 
and position on the animal's back? 

3. Was the animal's blow visible? If so, how tall did it 
appear? What was its shape? How frequently did the animal 
blow? 

4. What was the animal's color and color pattern? 

5. Did it have any highly distinctive markings? 

6. If it was a large or medium-sized animal, did it show its 
tail flukes when it began its dive? 

7. If it was a medium-sized or small animal, did it 
approach, avoid, or ignore the vessel? Did it ride the bow 
wave? 

8. What was its behavior? Did it jump from the water? If 
so, did it make a smooth graceful arching jump, or did it spin, 
somersault, or reenter with a splash? 

One characteristic is rarely sufficient by itself, and the 
greater amount of relevant evidence the observer can obtain, 
the greater the likelihood he can make a reliable 
identification. But it is important to remember that even the 
most experienced cetologists are often unable to make an 
identification. Therefore, even if you cannot positively 
identify an animal or even make a good guess as to its 
identity, do not hesitate to fill out the rest of the sighting 
record form and submit it to an appropriate office. Listing the 
characters you observe and filling in as much of the form as 
possible may enable a cetologist to make an identification 
based on those characters and his knowledge of the 
distribution, movements, and behavior of cetaceans. In this 
regard, a sketch made as soon as possible after the encounter 
and photographs taken from as many angles as possible will 
aid in the identification. 



Two sample sighting reports are provided to demonstrate 
a method of recording observations. The first report, 
"Sighting Information," is completed as an example and is 
footnoted for explanation. The second report, "Cetacean 
Data Record." located at the end of the guide, is blank and 
may be photocopied in bulk for use in the field. Copies of this 
or similar forms are available from any of the authors or from 
National Marine Fisheries Service, Tiburon, Calif. Even if no 
form is available, however, observations should be recorded 
in rough form, in as much detail as possible. 

Reliable intermittent reports of cetaceans are of interest 
to cetologists. Their locations indicate seasonality of 
distribution, and their frequencies help indicate relative 
abundances of the various species. Because scientists are 
attempting to determine areas in which cetaceans are often, 
occasionally, seldom, or never found, and are ultimately 
describing why animals are found in one area and not another, 
persons who want to go a step further in their participation in 
observer programs may want to keep and report records of 
their entire cruise tracks and zones in which vigilance was 
maintained but no cetaceans were observed. Data obtained in 
this manner may be used as the foundation of estimates of 
cetacean populations, estimates which are extremely difficult 
to obtain by any other method. 

To be of maximum use in such calculations, however, 
records of this kind must include the following minimum 
information: time and location of beginning and ending of 
each continuous watch, weather conditions as they affect 
visibility, sea state, ship's speed, height of the observer(s) 
above the water, number of persons on watch, and details of 
each sighting, particularly the estimated distance of the 
animal(s) from the ship's track. 

For a sample of a fictional continuous watch report might 
look like the following. If sighting forms are available, these 
observations may be recorded directly onto them. Addition- 
al information can be recorded on the opposite side of the 
forms. 



AppeofUx Figure Bl. — A sample cruise track with 
cetacean sightings. See text for detailed data recording. 




■- NIGHT OR 
NO WATCH 



160 



GENERAL INFORMATION 



RV Melville (34-foot converted fishing boat) 

U.S. Department of Commerce 

NMFS 

Hydrographic Cruise Miami. Florida to Flamingo, Florida 

28-31 January 1973 

2 observers (G.E. Lingle and G.M. Mohr) 

Eye level of observers: 16 feet above water 

Average ship speed: 8.0 knots during continuous watch 

Continuous watch information I refer to Fig. Bl ): 

Start End Start End 

Leg Date time time position position 



1-2 2/28 1200 1730 



3-4 2/29 0800 1500 



5-6 2/30 0700 1630 



7-8 2/31 0700 0900 



U. Miami Dock 
Va. Key 

24-26N 
80-04E 

25-12N 
80-46W 

25-00 
80-45W 



25-42N 
80-02W 

25-OON 
81-04W 

25-12N 
81- low 

Flamingo 



Weather— Visibility 

Beaufort II Visibility 
3 miles 

Beaufort I Visibility 
3.5 miles 

3.5 miles 



3.5 miles 



Cetacean observations (refer to Fig. Bl): 

A -2/28 1048 16 bottlenosed dolphins, Turstops truwcaiMs. 6 miles outside 
our course, headed west— rode bow briefly. 
Large concentrations of sea birds in area. 
One porpoise freeze branded N- 1 on dorsal fin. 

B- 2/29 1100 2 right whales directly ahead of vessle headed NE— 40-foot 
female? with calf. 2 bottlenosed dolphins accompanying the 
whales were riding pressure wave off whale's head. 

C-2/29 1400 25-30 spotted porpoises, Stenella plagiodon, 1.25 miles 
outside our course, heading 240° mag. 
Did not ride bow wave. 

D-2/30 1300 8 bottlenosed dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, 200-300 yards 
inshore of our course, milling in area of concentrations of 
mullet and other small schooling fishes, dolphins (porpoises) 
and birds feeding on fish. 



161 



SIGHTING INFORMATION 



WEATHER CONDITIONS : ^^a#<g»-«icj rai^r) 'i>cf^^\\t>, VIS. I. My l-lS^m ; ,Tg.^^ 4 Z" F 
OCEANOGRAPHIC mNmTTONs '-^weHf, |-2^g.ef, ^ga-Jfergj uoK'.tg G af>f> 

^ 1 i ^L I r- L 1 \ ' V *^C4-sr-4if/»SfO ^- 

spF.rres ^ Ki^U+ ujpalg-^, fcqbaiaetna <gUg.\a|is number of animaus).^^: 

HEADING OF ANIMAL(S) OS^" SPEED OF ANIMAL(S) ll^ 

(MAGNETIC) (KNOTS) 

ASSOCIATED npr,. MT^M«- B<^iflgn^^d Ao]p ]n\ni> .^ur^\o^^ 4-rMncala6>Oj 

TAGS OR UNUSUAL MARKTMHS ^ng UjK-aW Ka j ^^g^ £>U^)n Bcro'^ S back aL>o^4| 

3jl-f. ]^eUxr\^ MovA?V>ole5> - 3^lga ^/- ^la$l-> uua>s coUrte. 

CHARACTERISTICS OBSERVED WHICH RESULTED IN SPECIES IDENTIFICATION ^^ K; 'vo — 

BEHAVIOR OF amtmat.<.^ AJuH- ujV^aU ^w^vn 6>^eajil^ ho»-4K, cra lf-cUse 



SKETCHED; ^^^^''^'^**^ 





* \ ^ .^ ^^ PHOTOS AVAILABLE YES *^ NO, 

ADDITIONAL REMARKS ' Po^pK'H'b ^e^^n^•■n<g<j VAjJ-t-h wha\e$ e\r^\\^re. Y-j. hoa\r Q f- 

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OBSERVER (SHIP OR A/C) (p. t. ■ U\)no^'€ -) 

M aval (Jv^deH6ea Cenfgt-^ ^aiAl^-.e^o^ cSal.fo>r>r^-.a 'R^tS'Z ar>4 
^.A. An-Vov^eliiS,K)MF6,6ea-H-)fioU)a6W.no,Von^S>loS s^^o*-^ ■^'^^ ^^ 

>lf latitude and longitude are not readily available, record best avaUable position, for example 5 hours at 10 knots, S,E ol Miami. /^obfi. 

^Any oceanographic or bathymelric information obtainable at the time of sighting may be significant. Such measurements as water depth. Y 

presence of large fish schools, or deep scattering layer/organisms (DSL) characteristics of the bottom (e.g.. flat sand plam. sea mount, 
submarine cliff), surface temperature, depth of thermocline, and salinity should be included if available. In the Pacific, similar data have 
been used to demonstrate reliable associations there between saddle hack dolphins and significant features of bottom relief and relationships 
between the onset of their nighttime deep diving (feeding) patterns and the upward migration of the scattering layers. 

' Sometimes two or more species of cetacean are found together. If more than one species is sighted, try to identify each. Give both com- 
mon and scientific names of each, and even if you cannot identify the animal(s) describe, sketch, and. if possible, photograph them and fill out 
the rest of the sighting report. 

•Describe any tags seen (see Appendix A) and state their size, shape, color, and position on the animal's body and any symbols or 
numbers they contain. 

162 



APPENDIX C 

STRANDED WHALES, DOLPHINS, AND PORPOISES 
With a Key to the Identification of Stranded Cetaceans of the Western North Atlantic 



Stranded Animals 

As we discussed briefly in tlie introduction to this guide, 
whales, dolphins, and porpoises sometimes "strand" or 
"beach" themselves, individually or in entire herds, for a 
complex of still incompletely understood reasons. Though the 
reasons suggested for these strandings appear almost as 
numerous as the strandings themselves, two tenable 
generalizations have recently been proposed. 

Strandings of lone individuals usually involve an animal 
which is sick or injured. Mass strandings, involving from 
several to several hundred individuals, appear to be far more 
complex and may result from fear reactions, from extremely 
bad weather conditions, from herd- wide disease conditions, 
or from failure of the echolocation system due to physiological 
problems or environmental conditions which combine to 
reduce its effectiveness, to mention only a few. 

Whatever their causes, however, cetacean strandings 
usually attract crowds and elicit much public interest and 
sympathy. There are frequently attempts to save the lives of 
the animals involved. 

Individually stranded cetaceans rarely survive, even if 
they are found soon after stranding and transported to 
adequate holding facilities. This does not mean that every 
attempt should not be made to save them. 

In mass strandings, some individuals may be entirely 



healthy, and if they are found soon enough after stranding, 
properly protected and transported, and correctly cared for 
in the initial few days after collection, they may survive in 
captivity. Attempts to rescue all the animals in a mass 
stranding by towing them out to sea have almost always been 
frustrating because the animals usually swim repeatedly 
back onto the beach. 

If you discover a stranding and before you become 
involved in an attempt to save a live stranded animal or to 
collect data from a dead one, you should be aware of the 
following: 

Marine mammals are currently protected by law. Under 
provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, it is 
unlawful for persons without a permit to handle, harass, or 
possess any marine mammal. It is within the authority of 
State officials and employees of the National Marine 
Fisheries Service to arrange for the care of live animals 
through certified institutions, such as many of those listed in 
Appendix E. (Even if the animals were not protected by law, 
any impulse to take them to backyard swimming pools, for 
instance, should be tempered by the knowledge that their 
chances of survival are far greater in an institution with the 
facilities and expertise to properly care for them.) The best 
general rule is to notify the nearest State or National Marine 
Fisheries Service office. If you prefer, however, you may 




Appendix Figure CI. — Whales and dolphins, like this mixed school of false killer whales and bottlenosed dolphins, sometimes strand themselves 
individually or as entire herds for a complex of still incompletely understood reasons. (Photo from Japan by S. Ohsumi.) 



163 



contact one of the institutions listed in the appendix and ask 
them to handle the situation. Some will already have permits 
to investigate strandings. Most will be anxious to help. 

Although you cannot remove the animal from the beach 
without a permit, you can help keep it alive until it can be 
removed. Here are a few hints. WhUe waiting for help to 
arrive, endeavor to keep the animal as comfortable as 
possible. If it is not too large and surf conditions permit, it 
should be removed to shallow water where it is barely afloat. 
The buoyancy of the water will reduce the stress to the animal 
and will help to keep it cool and prevent overheating— a real 
danger to stranded cetaceans. 

Whether or not the animal can be floated, care should be 
taken to protect it from sunburn, drying out, and 
overheating. If it is afloat, exposed parts should be frequently 
splashed down. If it is high and dry, it should be covered with 
damp cloth, particularly on the dorsal fin, flippers, and 
flukes, and the body and the terrain should be frequently 
watered to prevent the animal from overheating in the areas 
in contact with the sand or rock. 

In any case, be careful to leave the blowhole free so that 
the animal can breathe. Note also that the eyes are 
particularly sensitive and susceptible to injury; they should 
be covered with a wet cloth and treated with special care. 
With luck, this careful handling will be rewarded with the 
animal's being picked up and transported to an aquarium, 
where it can receive proper attention. But even if the animal 
cannot be saved, collection and examination of the carcass can 
provide valuable information to scientists working on the 
biology of cetaceans, or on such problems as their disease 
conditions and the effects of environmental pollutants on 
them. Dead stranded cetaceans even in advanced stages of 
decomposition are also an important source of materials for 
museum study and display. Therefore, every attempt should 
be made to get the carcass into the best hands. Dead 
cetaceans, like the live ones, are protected by law and may 
not be removed without a permit. The procedure for 
obtaining permission to collect them is the same as that 
outlined for live strandings. The majority of the institutions 
along the western North Atlantic coast will respond to calls 



about live or dead strandings. Even if you are unable to 
contact an appropriate official, you can still collect some 
valuable information by identifying the specimen, using the 
following key, and by collecting measurements (see 
Appendix D). 

Identifying the Animal 

Cetaceans may be found during or shortly after the 
stranding or many months later, when the carcass is bloated 
or rotted nearly beyond recognition. If the stranded animal is 
alive or freshly dead, it can be identified by any of the 
characteristics itemized in the text. But even if it is in an 
advanced stage of decomposition it can be identified using the 
key below. In general numbers and descriptions of teeth 
(Table 1) and numbers and descriptions of baleen plates 
(Table 2) persist longest as reliable identifying characteris- 
tics. If they are still detectable on the carcass, numbers and 
lengths of ventral g^rooves may also be used to separate the 
balaenopterine whales.' 

In order to use the key below, begin with the first pair of 
opposing characteristics— one of the two will apply to the 
specimen you are examining. On the line following that state- 
ment there will be a paragraph number, go to that paragraph. 
There you will find two more paired, opposing characteristics. 
Again, one of the two will apply to the specimen you are ex- 
amining. Select that one and go to the paragraph indicated on 
the line following it. Continue this procedure until the state- 
ment which is true for your specimen is followed by a species 
name instead of a reference to another paragraph. This name 
identifies the specimen. To verify your identification goto the 
discussion of that species in the text. With a little practice and 
careful attention to details, identification of whales, 
dolphins, and porpoises will become easier. 



'The tables were prepared primarily from Tomilin (1967) and 
supplemented by miscellaneous published papers and our own 
observations. The sections on toothed whales in the key were developed 
following the general outline of Moore (1953). 



KEY TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF STRANDED CETACEANS 
OF THE WESTERN NORTH ATLANTIC 

1. a. Double blowhole: noteethpresent in either jaw; baleen plates in upper jaws. 

(Baleen whale) Goto2 

b. Single blowhole: teeth present (sometimes concealed beneath the gums): no baleen plates in upper 

jaw. (Toothed whale) Goto9 

2. a. Ventral grooves present; dorsal fin present; viewed in profile, upper jaw relatively flat and broad. 

(Balaenopterine whale) Go to 3 

b. Ventral grooves absent: dorsal fin absent: viewed in profile, upper jaw and lower lips strongly 

arched: upper jaw very narrow. (Right whale) Go to 8 

3. a. Ventral grooves end before navel. ^ p '° f 

b. Ventral grooves extend to or beyond navel Go to 5 



'Counts of ventral grooves are made between the flippers and do not include shorter grooves often found on the side of the head and on the side above the 
flippers. 



164 



4. a. 50-70 ventral grooves, longest often ending between flippers; baleen less than 8 inches (20.3 cm), 

mostly white or yellowish white (some posterior plates may be dark) with 1.5-25 white bristles per 
centimeter; 300-325 plates per side. 

Minke whale, p. 63 
b. 38.56 ventral grooves, longest ending well short of navel; baleen less than 31 inches (78.7 cm), black 
(some anteriormost plates may be white) and with 35-60 fine silky white bristles per centimeter; 318 
340 plates per side. 

Sei whale, p. 32 

5. a. Flippers one-fourth to one-third length of the body length and knobbed on leading edge; less than 22 

broad and conspicuous ventral grooves, longest extending at least to navel; head covered with 
numerous knobs; baleen less than 24 inches (61 cm) , ash black to olive brown (sometimes whitish) with 
10-35 grayish white bristles per centimeter; 270-400 plates per side. 

Humpback whale, p. 40 
b. Flippers less than one-fifth body length; no knobs; from 40 to 100 fine ventral grooves, longest 

extending at least to navel; head lacks knobs Go to 6 

6. a. Three ridges on head, one from blowholes, forward towards tip of snout, one auxiliary groove along 

each side of main ridge; 40-50 ventral grooves; 250-300 slate-gray baleen plates with 15-35 dirty gray 
bristles per centimeter. 

Bryde's whale, p. 37 
b. Only one prominent ridge on head,^ from just in front of blowholes forward towards tip of snout; 55- 

100 ventral grooves Go to 7 

7. a. Head broad and U-shaped; dorsal fin less than 13 inches (33 cm) and very far back on tail stock; baleen 

all black with 10-30 black bristles per centimeter; plates extremely broad relative to length. 

Blue whale, p. 19 
b. Head broad at gape but sharply pointed on tip; dorsal fin to 24 inches (61 cm) and slightly more than 
one-third forward from tail; right front one-fifth to one-third of baleen ivory white to yellowish white, 
remainder dark gray to bluish gray streaked with yellowish white; plates have 10-35 gray or white 
bristles per centimeter and are narrow relative to length. 

Fin whale, p. 26 

8. a. Top of snout not covered with callosities; 325-360 baleen plates per side, longest reaching 14 feet (4.3 

m); plates black with black bristles (anterior portion of some plates may be whitish). 

Bowhead whale, p. 49 
b. Top of snout covered with callosities, often including lice and/or barnacles; 250-390 baleen plates per 
side, longest reaching 7.2 feet (2.2 m); plates dirty or yellowish gray (some anterior plates all or part 
white and some posterior plates brown or black) with 35-70 bristles per centimeter. 

Right whale, p. 52 

9. a. Upper part of head extending appreciably past tip of lower jaw; lower jaw markedly undershot and 

considerably narrower than upper jaw Go to 10 

b. Upper part of head not extending appreciably past tip of lower jaw; lower jaw approximately same 

width as upper jaw Go to 12 

10. a. Body more than 13 feet (4.0 m); head massive, to one-third of body length; blowhole located far 

forward of eyes and to left front of head; dorsal fin low, triangular or rounded followed by series of 
knuckles or crenulations; 18-25 teeth in each lower jaw fit into sockets in upper jaw (10-16 upper 
teeth rarely emerge). 

Sperm whale, p. 57 

b. Body less than 13 feet (4.0 m); head considerably less than one-third body length; blowhole located 
approximately even with eyes on top of head, slightly displaced to left but not on left front of head; 
conspicuous dorsal fin present; 8-16 teeth in each lower jaw fitting into sockets in upper jaw Go to 1 1 

11. a. No creases on throat; dorsal fin small and located in latter third of back; 12-16 teeth (rarely 10 11) in 

each lower jaw. 

Pygmy sperm whale, p. 144 
b. Inconspicuous creases on throat; dorsal fin tall and falcate, resembling that of the Atlantic bottle- 
nosed dolphin, and located near middle of back; 8-11 (rarely 13) extremely sharp teeth in each lower 
jaw; rarely 1-3 teeth in each upper jaw. 

Dwarf sperm whale, p. 148 



'Blue whale has faint lateral ridges. 



165 



12. a. Two conspicuous grooves on outer surface of throat forming V-shape pointed forward; notch absent 

or inconspicuous in flukes. (Beaked whale) Go to 13 

b. No conspicuous grooves on outer surface of throat; deep median notch on rear margin of tail 

flukes Go to 18 

13. a. A pair of teeth located at the tip of the lower jaw (erupted only in adult males, concealed in females 

and immature animals) Go to 14 

b. Noteethat the tip of the lower jaw Goto 16 

NOTE: Immature individuals of the species covered in paragraphs 14 and 15 may not be readily identifiable without 
museum preparation and examination. 

14. a. Two well-developed teeth, erupted or hidden beneath the gum, are compressed so they appear 

elliptical in cross section; body to 16 feet (4.9 m); united portion of the lower jaws* more than one- 
fourth the length of the entire lower jaw. 

True's beaked whale, p. 77 
b. Two well-developed teeth substantially less flattened so that they appear more nearly rounded 

in cross section Go to 15 

15. a. Distinct elongated beak; pronounced bulge to forehead; blowhole located in lateral crease behind 

bulge; body to 32 feet (9.8 m); sometimes second pair of teeth behind first in lower jaw. 

Northern bottlenosed whale, p. 67 
b. No distinct beak; forehead slightly concave in front of blowhole, increasing in concavity with 
increasing size; body to 23 feet (7.0 m); united portion of lower jaw less than one-fourth the length of 
the entire lower jaw; head of adult males all white. 

Goosebeaked whale, p. 70 

16. a. A single pair of teeth in the united portion of the lower jaw, at the suture of the mandible (about one- 

third of the way from the tip of the snout to the gape); length to 22 feet (6.7 m); flukes less than one- 
fifth the body length. 

Antillean beaked whale, p. 78 
h A single pair of teeth backof united portion of lower jaw; body less than 17 feet (5.2 m) Goto 17 

17. a. Teeth not exceptionally large and located immediately back of united portion of lower jaw. about half 

way from the tip of the snout to the gape. 

North Sea beaked whale, p. 82 
b. Teeth exceptionally large, located on bony prominences near the corner of the mouth, and oriented 
backwards; corners of mouth, particularly in adult males, have high-arching contour; flukes to one- 
sixth or one- fifth of the body length. 

Dense-beaked whale, p. 80 

18. a. Rostrum, if present, not sharply demarcated from forehead Go to 19 

b. Head has a distinct, though sometimes short rostrum separated from the forehead by a distinct crease angle ... Go to 30 

19. a. Teeth spade-shaped, laterally compressed and relatively small; body to only about 5 feet (1.5 m); 

22-28 teeth in each upper and lower jaw. 

Harbor porpoise, p. 150 
b. Teeth conical and sharply pointed (in cross section circular, or slightly flattened anteroposte- 

riorly Go to 20 

20. a. No distinct dorsal fin; back marked instead with small dorsal ridge near midpoint of back Go to 21 

b. Distinct dorsal fin, in middleor forward third of the back Go to 22 

21. a. 8-11 teeth in each upper jaw, 8-9 in each lower jaw; body of young slate gray or brownish, adults 

white; short broad rostrum. 

Beluga, p. 99 
b. No visible teeth (or two teeth) in upper jaw of adults only; in males and sometimes females one or both 
of these may grow up to 9-foot (2.7-m) tusk in left-hand (sinestral) spiral; no rostrum. 

Narwhal, p. 102 

' By feeling bet ween the lower jaws on the ventral surface and moving the finger forward towards the tip of the snout, one can feet the point at which the 
two lower jaws become united (called the symphysis). This location is an important reference point in distinguishing among the species separated in 
paragraphs 14. 15. and 16. 



166 



22. a. Head long and conical Go to 23 

b. Head blunt Go to 24 

23. a. 20-27 teeth in each upper and lower jaw; crowns of teeth often marked with many fine vertical 

wrinkles; body to about 8 feet (2.4 m). 

Rough-toothed dolphin, p. 135 
b. 26-35 teeth in each upper and lower jaw; teeth smooth; body to about 5.6 feet (1.7 m); distribution 
restricted to northern coast of South America, in the Guianas, and adjacent eastward territory 
of Venezuela. 

Guiana dolphin, p. 132 

24. a. Teeth usually at front end of lower jaw only, 2-7 pairs (rarely teeth in upper jaw); all teeth may have 

fallen out of the lower jaw of older specimens or may be extensively worn; forehead with median 
crease; dorsal fin tall and distinct to 15 inches (38. 1 cm); body to 13 feet (4.0 m). 

Grampus, p. 96 
b. Teeth in both upper and lower jaws, 7 or more pairs, forehead with no median crease Go to 25 

25. a. Flippers large and paddle-shaped, ovate, and rounded on the distal end; dorsal fin tall and erect to 

6 feet (1.8 m) in males and 3 feet (0.9 m) in females; 10-12 teeth in each jaw; teeth to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in 
diameter. 

Killer whale, p. 84 
b. Flippers long and pointed Go to 26 

26. a. Dorsal fin located in forward one- third of body, very broad at the base; head bulbous. 

(Pilotwhale) Goto27 

b. Dorsal fin located near midpoint of back; headlong Go to 28 

27. a. Flippersone-fifthof body length, or more. 

Atlantic pilot whale, p. 91 
b. Flippers one-sixth of body length, or less. 

Short-finned pilot whale, p. 94 

28. a. Flipper has distinctive hump on forward margin; 8-11 prominent teeth curved backwards and 

inwards, in each upper and lower jaw. 

False killer whale, p. 88 
b. Flipper lacks distinctive hump on forward margin; 10-25 teeth in each upper and lower jaw Go to 29 

29. a. 8-13 teeth in each jaw. 

Pygmy killer whale, p. 138 
b. 20-25 teeth in each upper jaw, 21-24 teeth in each lower jaw. 

Many-toothed blackfish, p. 142 

30. a. Beak short, usually less than about 1 inch (2.5 cm) ' Go to 31 

b. Beak more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) Go to 33 

31. a. Flippers very short; dorsal fin small and triangular; 38-44 teeth in each jaw; body to at least 8 feet (2. 4 

ml; distinct black stripe from beak to area of anus; in profile beak shows very little separation from 
forehead. 

Fraser's dolphin, p. 120 ■ 
b. Flippers long relative to body length; dorsal fin tall and distinctly falcate; 22-40 teeth in each jaw; in 

profile, beak shows distinct separation from forehead. {Lagenorkynchus sp.) Go to 32 

32. a. 22-28 teeth in each jaw; dorsal fin all black; body to about 10 feet (3. 1 m). 

White-beaked dolphin, p. 126 
b. 30-40 teeth in each jaw (some animals have greater number in upper than in lower jaw); dorsal fin 
part gray, part black; body to about 9 feet (2.7 m). 

Atlantic white-sided dolphin, p. 123 

33. a. 20-26 teeth in the upper jaws; 18-24 in the lower jaws; body to 12 feet (3.7 m); teeth may be 

extensively worn. 

Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin, p. 128 

b. 26 or more teeth in both upper and lower jaws Go to 34 

167 



34. a. 29-36 teeth in each upper jaw; 28-36 in each lower jaw. 

(Spotted dolphins) Go to 35 

b. More than 40 teeth in each upper and lower jaw Go to 36 

NOTE: Characters in paragraph 35 are usable only on fresh specimens. Spotted dolphins in advanced stages of 
decomposition can be distinguished only with museum preparation and examination. 

35. a. Bridle present (dark lines from eye to rostrum and from flippers to corner of mouth); cape on head 

distinct; no spinal blaze. 

Bridled dolphin, p. 108 
b. Bridle absent though there is a light line from the flipper to the eye; cape indistinct; spinal blaze. 

Atlantic spotted dolphin, p. 104 

36. a. From 46-65 small, sharply pointed teeth; body dark gray on back, tan to light gray on sides, white 

on belly; beak dark gray or black above, white below, and often black-tipped; body to about 7 feet 
(2.1m). 

Spinner dolphin, p. 110 
b. From 40 to 50 teeth in each upper and lower jaw Go to 37 

37. a. Body to 9 feet (2.7 m); black to dark gray on back, gray on sides, white on belly; distinctive black 

stripes from eye to anus, eye to flipper, and dark dorsal coloration to side above flipper. 

Striped dolphin, p. 113 
b. Body to 8.5 feet (2.6 m) but usually less than 7.5 feet (2.3 m); body dark on back with light thoracic 
patch and crisscross or hourglass pattern on side; black stripe from middle of lower jaw to origin 
of flipper. 

Saddleback dolphin, p. 116 



168 



APPENDIX D 
RECORDING AND REPORTING DATA ON STRANDED CETACEANS 



So that measurements of cetaceans taken at different 
times and at widely divergent locations can be compared, the 
measurements and the methods of taking them have been 
standardized, although there is still some disagreement 
about which of the measurements are most important. The 
data form located at the end of this guide, usable on both 
baleen and toothed whales, includes all the measurements 
routinely taken by cetologists plus a few new ones the authors 
consider important. The form and the directions for taking 
measurements are synthesized from those currently in use by 
the Naval Undersea Center, San Diego; the Fisheries 
Research Board of Canada; the University of Rhode Island; 
the University of Florida; the U.S. National Museum, 
Washington, D.C.; and the National Marine Fisheries 
Service, La Jolla, Calif. 



Data on stranded cetaceans should be collected by 
someone experienced in handling and measuring cetaceans. 
The legal problems associated with collection of a specimen 
are discussed in Appendix C. In addition to having a permit or 
knowing how to obtain permission to collect the specimen, 
persons active in cetacean research will usually have access to 
laboratory facilities where in-depth studies, including 
postmortem examinations and collection of tissues for 
specialized laboratory examinations, can be conducted. 
Furthermore, specialized equipment, and the number of 
steps required to do a complete job with the specimen, make 
the procedure prohibitive for most noncetologists. Diligent 
attempts should be made to contact one of the institutions 
listed in Appendix E. If no one is available and no permit or 
approval is obtainable, you are limited to photographing, 



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Appendix Figure Dl. — Locations and details of important measurements. 



169 



sketching, and measuring the specimen without removing 
the carcass or any part of the carcass from the beach. 

Any person taking data on stranded cetaceans should 
follow the instructions itemized below, being careful to take 
measurements in the manner prescribed and to record data in 
as much detail as possible. 



1. Specimens should be preserved in 10% neutral 
Formalin, except for the stomach contents, which should be 
kept in 70% ethyl or 40% isopropyl alcohol, or be frozen. 
Commercial rubbing alcohol will suffice. As a minimum, the 
head, flippers, and reproductive tract should be preserved. If 
no other method of handling the specimen is available, and 
only as a last resort, it may be buried in the sand well above 
the high tide line and carefully marked so it can later be 
recovered. Burying usually results in the loss of some vital 
parts. 

2. The carcass should be examined for external parasites 
particularly in such areas as the blowhole(s), the eyes, any 
wounds on the trailing edges of the dorsal fin, flippers, and 
flukes. Occasionally barnacles will be found on teeth or baleen 
plates. Like the stomach contents, parasites should be 
preserved in alcohol. 

3. Photographs and sketches are a valuable part of data 
collection— views of the animal(s) from as many angles as 



possible, and detailed shots of such features as baleen plates, 
mouth and teeth, ventral grooves, flippers, flukes, and 
unusual scars or coloration should be included. Including a 
ruler for size reference may be helpful. 

4. Although scientific data are usually expressed in metric 
units, measurements should be taken in whatever units are 
readily available. All measurements should be taken in a 
straight line, as shown in the diagram, unless otherwise 
noted. Measurements which refer to the rostrum are taken 
from the tip of the upper jaw. The external auditory meatus 
(ear) is a small inconspicuous opening located just below and 
behind the eye. To locate the ear the observer must 
sometimes scrape away some of the skin to expose the 
unpigmented ear canal beneath it. 

.5. Throat grooves are short grooves found on the throat of 
beaked whales, sperm whales, and dwarf sperm whales. 
Ventral grooves are long grooves found only on 
balaenopterine whales. Ventral grooves should be counted 
between the flippers. 

It is difficult to overstress the importance of data from 
stranded cetaceans. For some species, the only data available 
have come from stranded individuals. By carefully gleaning 
from each specimen all the data that can be collected, you will 
make a valuable addition to the body of knowledge on these 
elusive animals. 



170 



APPENDIX E 
LIST OF INSTITUTIONS TO CONTACT REGARDING STRANDED CETACEANS 



The following list includes many of the institutions in the 
area covered by this guide, which are likely to respond to 
calls about stranded cetaceans. The institutions on the 
mainland are listed roughly in order from north to south, 
following the contour of the coast. Several island institutions 
and organizations are also listed. 

These institutions are the ones that come to mind as 
having taken an active interest in cetacean strandings in the 
recent past. In addition to these, almost any university 
biology or zoology department. State or Federal conserva- 
tion agency or marine laboratory, or local natural history 
museum or society can recommend an interested biologist if 
no staff member is interested. Such organizations are widely 
distributed on or near the coasts and are usually adequately 
listed in local telephone directories. 

It should be obvious that organizations such as oceanaria 
are the most likely ones to be interested in live animals on an 
emergency basis. Even so, these organizations often 
cooperate with biologists with whom they are familiar and so 
will pick up dead animals for them as well. Conversely, 
museums and the like are most interested in the dead animals 
as they have no facilities for handling live ones. Nevertheless, 
they often cooperate with institutions equipped to handle live 
animals and will usually help in making arrangements for 
picking up the live ones. Therefore, rather than the finder's 
making a decision as to whether or not an institution should 
be called because the animal is alive or dead, we would urge 
that the nearest organization in the following list be contacted 
under any circumstances. 

Space is provided at the end of the list for additions of 
contacts inadvertently overlooked in compiling this list, or of 
institutions which come into being after its publication. 

CANADA 



Massachusetts 

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole. 
New England Ai|uarium, Central Wharf, Boston. 
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 
Cambridge. 

Rhode Island 

Narragansett Marine Laboratory, University of Rhode 
Island, Kingston. 

Connecticut 

Mystic Marine Life Aquarium, Mystic. 

.New York 

New York Aquarium, Coney Island, Brooklyn. 
American Museum of Natural History. Department of 
Mammals, New York City. 

New Jersey 

Department of Biochemistry, Rutgers University, New 

Brunswick, 
also see New York. 

Delaware 

see New York, 
see New Jersey. 

Maryland 

Department of Pathobiology, Johns Hopkins University, 

Baltimore, 
also see District of Columbia. 

District of Columbia 

Division of Mammals, United States National Museum. 



Newfoundland 

Department of Biology, Memorial University of New- 
foundland, St. John's. 

Nova Scotia 

Bedford Institute, Dartmouth. 

Departments of Biology, Psychology and/or Physiology, 

Dalhousie University, Halifax. 
Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax. 

Quebec 

Arctic Unit, Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ste. 
Anne de Bellevue. 

Ontario 

Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph. 

UNITED STATES 

Maine 

see Massachusetts. 

New Hampshire 

see Massachusetts. 



Virginia 

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point. 
also see District of Columbia. 

North Carolina 

Duke Marine Laboratory, Beaufort. 
Institute of Fisheries Research, University of North 
Carolina, Morehead City. 

South Carolina 

Charleston Museum, Charleston. 

Grice Marine Biological Laboratory, College of Charles- 
ton, Charleston. 

Georgia 

The Georgia Conservancy, The Clusky Building, 127 

Abercorn Street, Savannah. 
University of Georgia Marine Institute, Sapelo Island 

(Darien). 

Florida 

Marineland of Florida, St. Augustine 
University of Florida Biocommunication and Marine 
Mammal Research Facility, St. Augustine. 



171 



Ocean World, Ft. Lauderdale. 

Wometco Miami Seaquarium, Miami. 

University of Miami School of Marine and Atmospheric 

Sciences, Miami. 
Sea World, Orlando. 
Mote Marine Laboratory, Placida. 
Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota. 
A(|uatarium, St. Petersburg Beach. 
Florida's Gulfarium, Ft. Walton Beach. 

Alabama 

see Florida (Florida's Gulfarium). 
see Mississippi. 

Mississippi 

Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs. 

Louisiana 

Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University, 

Baton Rouge. 
Marine Life Park, Gulfport. 

Texas 

Sea-Arama Marineworld, Galveston. 

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas 

A&M University, College Station. 
Department of Zoology, University of Corpus Christi, 

Corpus Christi. 
University of Texas, Marine Science Institute, Port 

Aransas. 

Puerto Rico 

Commercial Fisheries Laboratory, Department of 
Agriculture, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Maya- 
guez. 



Department of Agriculture, Commonwealth of Puerto 
Rico, Santurce (San Juan). 

Virgin Islands 

Caribbean Research Institute, Red Hook, St. Thomas. 



OTHERS 

Mexico 

Instituto Nacionale de Investigaciones Biologia 

Pesquera, Division de Vertebrados Marinos, Mexico 

7, D.F. 
also see Texas. 

Venezuela 

Universidad de Oriente, Nucleo de Nueva Esparta, 
Isla Margarita. 

Jamaica 

Department of Zoology, University of the West Indies, 

Mona (Kingston). 
Science Museum, Institute of Jamaica, Kingston. 

Bahamas 

Lerner Marine Laboratory, Bimini. 

Nassau Aquarium, Nassau, New Providence. 

Bermuda 

Bermuda Biological Station, St. George's. 
Government Aquarium and Museum, Flatts. 



Cuba 



Laboratorio de Vertebrados, Instituto de Biologia, 
Academie de Ciencias de Cuba, Havana. 



172 



SIGHTING INFORMATION 

DATE AND LOCAL TIME LOCATION 

WEATHER CONDITIONS 



OCEANOGRAPHIC CONDITIONS 



SPECIES NUMBER OF ANIMAL(S) 

HEADING OF ANIMAL(S) SPEED OF ANIMAL(S) _ 

(MAGNETIC) (KNOTS) 



ASSOCIATED ORGANISMS 



TAGS OR UNUSUAL MARKINGS 



CHARACTERISTICS OBSERVED WHICH RESULTED IN SPECIES IDENTIFICATION 



BEHAVIOR OF ANIMAL(S) 



SKETCHES 



PHOTOS AVAILABLE YES NO. 

ADDITIONAL REMARKS 



NAME AND ADDRESS OF OBSERVER (SHIP OR A/C) 



173 



SPECIES. 



CETACEAN DATA RECORD 

SEX LENGTH. 



DATE/TIME STRANDED. 



LOCATION OF COLLECTION 



OBSERVER NAME/ADDRESS 
SPECIMEN SENT TO 



.WEIGHT 



J) ATE/TIME DATA COLLECTED . 



Straight line parallel 
to the body axis 



Point to point 



MEASUREMENTS: 

1 . Tip of upper jaw to deepest part of fluke notch 

2 . Tip of upper jaw to center of anus 

3. Tip of upper jaw to center of genital slit 

4 . Tip of lower jaw to end of ventral grooves 

5. Tip of upper jaw to center of umbilicus 

6. Tipof upper jaw to top of dorsal fin 

7 . Tip of upper jaw to leading edge of dorsal fin 

8a. Tip of upper jaw to anterior insertion of flipper (right) 

b. Tip of upper jaw to anterior insertion of flipper (left) 
9. Tip of upper jaw to center of blowhole(s) 
10 . Tip of upper jaw to anterior edge of blowhole(s ) 
11a. Tip of upper jaw to auditory meatus (right) 

b. Tipof upper jaw to auditory meatus (left) 
12a. Tip of upper jaw to center of eye (right) 
b. Tipof upper jaw to center of eye (left) 

13. Tipof upper jaw to angle of gape 

14. Tipof upper jaw to apex of melon 

15. Rostrum - maximum width 

16. Throat grooves - length 



174 



Straight line parallel 

to the body axi§ Point to point 



17. Projectionof lower jaw beyond upper (if reverse, so state) 

18. Center of eye to center of eye 
19a. Height of eye (right) 

b. Height of eye (left) 
20a. Length of eye (right) 

b. Length of eye (left) 
21a. Centerof eye toangleof gape (right) 

b. Centerofeyetoangleof gape (left) 
22a. Center of eye to external auditory meatus (right) 

b. Center of eye to external auditory meatus (left) 
23a. Centerof eye to center of blowhole (right) 

b. Centerof eye to center of blowhole (left) 

24. Blowhole length 

25. Blowhole width 

26. Flipper width (right) 

27. Flipper width (left) 

28a. Flipper length - tip to anterior insertion (right) 
b. Flipper length - tip to anterior insertion (left) 

29a. Flipper length - tip to axilla (right) 
b. Flipper length - tip to axilla (left) 

30. Dorsal fin height 

31. Dorsal fin base 

32. Fluke span 

33. Fluke width 

34. Fluke depth of notch 

175 



Straight line parallel 
to the body axis 



Point to point 



35. Notch of flukes to center of anus 

36 . Notch of flukes to center of genital aperture 

37. Notch of flukes to umbilicus 

38 . Notch of flukes to nearest point on leading edge of flukes 

39. Girth at anus 

40. Girth at axilla 

41. Girth at eye 

42. Girth cm in front of notch of flukes 

43a. Blubber thickness (middorsal) 

b. Blubber thickness (lateral) 

c. Blubber thickness (midventral) 

44 . Width of head at post-orbital process of frontals 

45. Tooth counts: right upper 

right lower 

left upper 

left lower 

46. Baleen counts: right upper 

left upper 



47. Baleen plates, length longest 

48. Baleen plates, no. bristles/cm over 5 cm 
49a. Mammary slit length (right) 

b. Mammary slit length (left) 

50. Genital slit length 

51. Anal slit length 



176 



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